Five detainees arrested for attempting to torch the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Moqattam were released on an EGP 500 bail on Tuesday.
Eight people were arrested by Muslim Brotherhood members alongside the police on Sunday hours after the prosecutor general highlighted a law that allows citizens to arrest those who vandalise public and private property, block roads, and prevent public officials from carrying out their duties, among other crimes.
The three remaining detainees were sentenced to four days in jail, pending investigation, said Ramy Ghanem, a human rights lawyer. The jailed detainees include Al-Dostour Party member Ahmed Samir and 6 April Movement member Alaa Sharara.
Ahmed Magdy, an Al-Dostour Party lawyer, said the detainees are accused of attacking the Brotherhood headquarters in Moqattam and attempting to torch it. Magdy said there was no truth to these allegations.
The eight detainees’ interrogation took place on Monday. The detainees’ lawyers and families waited for the prosecution’s decision and were eventually told the decision was confidential, said Ahmed Abdel Rahman, an Al-Dostour Party member who accompanied the detainees during questioning.
“They told us that to figure out the prosecution’s decision, we have to go back to the Moqattam police station,” Abdel Rahman said. At the Moqattam police station, the lawyers were told those at the station know nothing about the prosecution’s decision.
During his interrogation, Samir claimed that he had received a blow to the head during his arrest. The lawyers demanded that Samir be examined and issued with a medical report. He is the sole eye-witness to the death of political activist Gaber “Jika” Salah. Jika was killed during clashes which erupted in the vicinity of Tahrir Square during the first anniversary of the Mohamed Mahmoud clashes in November.
Two 6 April Movement (Ahmed Maher front) members, Sharara and Shahin Mohtadi, were among those arrested. The Egyptian Coalition on Children’s rights stated that four of the eight detainees are minors aged between 15 and 18 years old.
The arrest is seen as an implementation of citizen arrest laws highlighted by the prosecutor general. The National Salvation Front (NSF) released a statement on Monday condemning the prosecutor general’s statement urging citizen arrests.
“The fact that the state authorities are encouraging the dismantling of state institutions is unprecedented,” the NSF said. It described the prosecutor general’s statement as officially paving the way for creating Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated militias. The front cited in its statement Article 97 of the Penal Code which criminalises the establishment of militias.
“The people do not accept a substitute to the police,” the statement read. The NSF urged policemen to do their duty in maintaining security and protecting citizens and refrain from becoming a tool used by authorities against the people.
The prosecutor general released a statement on Monday denying having granted citizens the ability to arrest outlaws. “The statement only highlighted the presence of Article 37 of the Criminal Procedures Code, which gives citizens the right to hand over any red-handed criminals to the police,” the statement read, referring to a law issued in 1950.
Additional reporting by Ahmed Aboul Enein