Sixteen detainees accused of assembling illegally in front of the Moqattam Police Station were ordered to be released on Monday on LE5,000 bail each, according to lawyer Karim Abdel Rady.
A total of 92 Moqattam residents were arrested in January after protesting the death of 22-year-old Mohamed Abdel Hakim Mahmoud, also known as Afroto, who was tortured and killed while in police custody, according to eyewitnesses. Of the residents arrested, nine were released on February 12, while release orders were issued for 36 others on Sunday and 16 on Monday. All the release order were contingent on the payment of a LE5,000 bail. Thirty one detainees remain in police custody at this time without having been granted release.
Afroto died in the Moqattam Police Station a few hours after his arrest on January 5. At the time, eyewitnesses told Mada Masr that Afroto was beaten and tortured to death. The incident prompted his family and neighbors to gather in protest in front of the police station. The security forces that were deployed at the scene fired live rounds into the air to disperse the crowd.
The detainees face charges of “illegal assembly, burning two police vehicles, resisting arrest, attempting to raid a police station and possession of molotov cocktails,” among other charges.
None of the eyewitnesses to whom Mada Masr spoke in January mentioned anything about protesters setting fire to private or police vehicles, but several security force staff told newspapers that had occurred.
An assistant detective and a police officer working in the Moqattam Police Station were later charged with killing Afroto and currently face trial. The upcoming session for the officer’s trial is scheduled for March 15.
Abdel Rady believes that leaving the case open for the 92 detainees is “a way of exerting pressure on the neighbors and relatives of Afroto, who are witnesses in the case regarding his death.”
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights has also raised concerns over what it described as “terrorizing the Moqattam victim families … and those who support [Afroto] in order to pressure them and influence the progress of the case.”
“The neighborhood residents,” the right organization added, “should not be punished for demanding to hold accountable those responsible for the death of Afroto.”