“Official autopsy reports on slain activists Amr Saad and Mohamed El-Gendy will be referred to the prosecutor-general’s office next week,” Al-Ahram reports.
The news is unlikely to stem the public outrage over the deaths and another incident in which police were caught on video (above) beating and dragging a naked man during last Friday’s protests.
The latest violence has drawn attention to the government’s failure to reform the security services and other aspects of a repressive state apparatus inherited from the former regime.
While the Mubarak-era’s “dreaded” State Security Investigations Service has been disbanded, “the hierarchy, culture, and philosophy endure,” says a leading analyst.
“Today, little has changed,” writes Joshua Stacher, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and an assistant professor of political science at Kent State University:
The SSI has simply been replaced by Egypt’s Homeland Security agency, which is just as violent as its predecessor; it is the same organization with a new name. One domestic nongovernmental organization claims that, in Morsi’s first 100 days, 88 people were tortured and 34 were extrajudicially murdered in police stations across the country, but not a single person connected to the new government’s coercive apparatus has been found guilty of a crime.
The US was “extremely disturbed by these incidents, including sexual assaults against women and the beating of a defenseless man last week,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.
“We urge the government of Egypt to thoroughly, credibly and independently investigate all claims of violence and wrongdoing by security officials and demonstrators and to bring perpetrators to justice. Accountability is the best way to prevent recurrences of these kinds of incidents.”
Mohammed el Gindy was protesting in Tahrir Square last month on the second anniversary of the country’s revolution before going missing for several days. According to the Health Ministry, el Gindy, unconscious and suffering from internal bleeding, was brought by ambulance to a Cairo hospital January 28 – four days after he went missing – having been involvedin a “car accident.” Activists detained with el Gindy in a police roundup last week reported that he was taken to a police camp and subjected to torture. Mona Amer, a spokeswoman for Popular Current, the party to which el Gindy belonged, said she observed signs of electrocution, strangulation and broken ribs on el Gindy’s body. Mohamed Abdel Aziz, a lawyer with Al-Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, accused the hospital of changing el Gindy’s arrival date to conceal his kidnapping. The Interior Ministry issued no immediate comment.
“The Egyptian Ministry of Interior remains the country’s most virulently detested institution,” writes Stacher, the author of Adaptable Autocrats: Regime Power in Egypt and Syria (Stanford University Press, 2012).
“Reluctance to reform the Interior Ministry might have been expected from the military,” he writes for Foreign Affairs:
But, given that Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood were the victims of the state’s iron fist for so long, it is surprising that they are equally keen to keep the old system in place. Their desire to stay in power, it seems, has led them to lie with strange bedfellows. In addition, the transition from military to civilian rule was structured such that the winner of the presidential elections would be forced to compromise with the old regime. As a result, the president, together with the short-lived parliament and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), has ignored or blocked efforts by groups such as the National Initiative for Rebuilding the Police to professionalize and reform the security sector. And recent judicial rulings continue to place the police beyond the law, which encourages them to keep defending the regime, as opposed to serving the population.