At least 26 fans arrested following a deadly stampede at a Cairo football stadium last week have been tortured in custody, according to lawyers involved in the case.
On 8 February, at least 22 fans of Zamalek SC died when attempting to enter the Air Defence Stadium in Eastern Cairo to watch their team play ENPPI. The game was one of the first top-league games fans have been allowed to attend since the Port Said tragedy in 2012.
Fans were corralled tightly through a narrow metal cage to enter the stadium which descended in to chaos. Many were trampled and killed following the discharge of tear gas from Ministry of Interior security forces tasked with overseeing attendees.
Following the event in which many – including prominent rights watchdog Amnesty International – have laid blame on security forces for the deaths. Scores of fans were arrested, with many transferred to Abu Nomros police station in Giza.
However, the Ministry of Interior has maintained that the deaths originated from the behaviour of the fans. The Forensic Medicine Authority has sought to deny that any deaths were consequent from tear gas, bird shot or police beatings as eye witnesses have reported.
Mohamed Eissa, a lawyer representing defendants in the case, told Daily News Egypt that currently seven individuals who were picked up at the time of the game remain in custody. There are also 17 in custody who were subsequently arrested for allegedly attempting to storm Zamalek SC premises; the hard-core fans of Zamalek, known as Ultras White Knights, have an acrimonious relationship with their team’s management
Eissa also reported that two arrestees he was working with, Ahmed Zizo and Mostafa Al-Awady, have been released.
However, Eissa also told Daily News Egypt that all detainees have been tortured whilst in custody in Abu Nomros police station, with Zizo and Al-Awady’s bodies displaying physical evidence of the abuse. It is understood that detainees have been subject to electrocution and beatings with weapons at the hands of police in the station.
Eissa said that they have submitted five complaints to the prosecutor general regarding the abuse inside Abu Nomros.
Egyptian rights group, Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), stated on Saturday that they have also submitted an official communication to the prosecutor general. In the communication, they documented abuse by torture and beatings with sticks at Abu Nomros to four detainees: Mostafa Mahmoud Khairy, Ramadan Saad Said, Gamal Abdel Nasser, and Omar Salah.
The defendants were arrested from their houses in Nasr City on 8 February.
AFTE’s letter states that they were tortured into stating they were paid by the Muslim Brotherhood to riot, with those tortured also including at least one minor.
The defendants are charged with premeditated sabotage of military property [the Air Defence Stadium], resisting authorities, disrupting traffic, damaging public property, police cars and ambulances, and thuggery.
Eissa stated he believes all defendants will face civil trial, despite Amnesty International’s worries in a Friday statement that they will face military trial owing to the stadium’s status as military property. The Egyptian prosecution is entitled to refer civilians charged with attacking military property and personnel to private military tribunals.