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Egyptian police suspected in death of Copt in custody

FUNERAL COPTIC CAIRO

Ibrahim Ezzat | NurPhoto

John Burger - published on 07/24/17 - updated on 07/25/17

Hundreds of protestors in Cairo demand answers

Amnesty International has called on Egyptian authorities to investigate the death of 43-year old Egyptian citizen Gamal Aweida, a Coptic Christian who died in police custody, Coptic Solidarity reported.

Aweida was arrested on July 18 and held in Mansheyet Nasir police station in Cairo for questioning in relation to a forgery offence. About 15 hours later, police called his family and alleged that Aweida had hanged himself.

However, evidence gathered by Amnesty and eyewitness testimony suggested that he had not committed suicide. According to two witnesses held in custody with Aweida, the man got into a verbal altercation with a police officer because the officer insulted his religion. Aweida was taken to a different part of the police station.

The next morning, one of the witnesses was being escorted to the bathroom and saw Aweida lying on the floor motionless, and the witness thought Aweida may have been dead.

“The evidence strongly suggests that Gamal Aweida was tortured to death by Egyptian police,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International. “Years of impunity have emboldened perpetrators of such abuses in Egypt, giving security forces free rein to torture and ill-treat detainees without fearing any consequences.”

Last December police officers were charged with torturing a Catholic Copt, Magdy McCain, to death.

Aweida’s family filed a complaint with the office of the Public Prosecutor in Egypt, claiming that Aweida had been tortured to death. Judicial authorities have ordered an autopsy.

Hundreds of people, most of them belonging to the Coptic community, gathered late last week in front of the police station  to express their anger, Fides news agency reported.

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Christians in the Middle East
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