Prosecution authorities in Qasr Al-Nil detained Zohdy El-Shamy, Vice President of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, of which member Shaimaa Al-Sabbagh was shot dead during a peaceful march in Talaat Harb Square in downtown Cairo on 24 January.
“Authorities turned Zohdy from an eyewitness to a suspect and interrogated him for over seven hours, without respecting correct legal procedures and fabricated accusations of carrying weapons during the protest, assaulting citizens and resisting security,” according to the report of the independent Al-Haqanya law centre.
The party’s Secretary-General Talaat Fahmy, who was also arrested during the protest and then released, confirmed El-Shamy’s detention, warning that he suffers heart complications and holding the Ministry of Interior responsible for his physical and mental safety.
Al-Haqanya’s report said El-Shamy was subject to “psychological pressure”. El-Shamy reportedly went to the prosecution with a lawyer to provide his testimony for the shooting of Al-Sabbagh, but was detained instead. The centre said authorities mistreated lawyers accompanying him and prevented most of them from attending investigations.
“They were then taken by surprise when the head of the prosecution authority told them there was an arrest warrant issued against Zohdy since 29 January and a police report upon which the prosecution made its accusations against Zohdy,” the report said.
On the other hand, party members are accusing Qasr Al-Nil police authorities of shooting Al-Sabbagh, while the Forensic Medicine Authority confirmed she died of a birdshot in the chest. The party will file a complaint to the prosecutor general Sunday.
El-Shamy’s is not the first such case in Al-Sabbagh’s killing. An activists and lawyer named Azza Soleiman, who was at scene by coincidence, went to give her testimony a few hours after the clashes, but was questioned as a suspect afterwards, on claims of taking part in a violent protest and assaulting police forces.
A couple of party members who took part in the march were arrested on scene as they carried the injured Al-Sabbagh, seeking medical assistance. However, police forces prevented them from doing so, and took them away, allegedly leaving the 31-year-old mother bleeding to death on the streets.
Authorities also reportedly banned a Cairo funeral for the victim, after a mass funeral took place in her hometown where she was buried in Alexandria. However, the party is hosting a second funeral in Cairo, and female activists organised a rally last Thursday and chanted against “police thuggery” and brutality.
El-Shamy’s detention comes a few days after Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim denied allegations regarding the killing of Al-Sabbagh, and maintained that police forces have not used birdshots on protesters.