By Tamim Elyan
CAIRO: State security detained 24-year-old Muslim Brotherhood (MB) member Mohamed Ismail on Jan. 5 as part of the investigation in the New Year’s attack on Al-Qeddesine (The Church of the Two Saints), said the MB’s Alexandria office.
Ismail, a communications engineer for an industrial company, has been held for a week at the state security office in the old Alexandria Security Directorate building alongside 500 suspects — all of which are affiliated with Salafi groups, the statement added.
“Since his arrest, no police report has been filed, [and he has not been] interrogated by the prosecution,” Khalaf Bayoumi, Ismail’s lawyer, told Daily News Egypt. “We can’t reach him.
“[The authorities] are now even denying his presence there,” Bayoumi added.
Bayoumi filed a communication regarding Ismail’s absence to Alexandria Attorney General Yasser Al Refa’y, in addition to sending a memorandum to Prosecutor General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud.
Although the reasons for the detention weren’t announced, Bayoumi stated that it was most likely related to the church attack, since Ismail — who has a wife and two children — was detained with suspects in this case.
Dozens of Salafi group members were arrested and interrogated as suspects in the bombing that left 23 dead and more than 90 injured.
The MB condemned the attack in an official statement and some of the group’s most prominent figures participated in protests denouncing it.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International urged Egyptian authorities on Tuesday to order the police to stop harassing and intimidating the family of the late Sayed Belal — a 31-year-old Egyptian who was allegedly tortured to death during interrogations in the same case.
According to press reports, Belal’s family were informed by the Zeqelah Hospital of his death one day after state security arrested him. They saw signs of torture on his dead body. They officially accused state security of torturing Belal to death.
Belal’s family was then pressured — according to Khaled Al-Sherif, Belal’s brother-in-law — to drop the case they filed against the state security officials, who refused to attend an interrogation by the prosecution.
“Both the death of Sayed Belal and the reported threats against his family are very disturbing developments,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa. “[These developments] point to a continuing pattern of unlawful behavior by state security, which has long been accused of using torture.
“The Egyptian authorities must take immediate measures to protect the family, [to] ensure an independent investigation into Belal’s death, and [to] safeguard other detained suspects from torture or other ill treatment,” he added.
According to Smart, plain-clothed police officers have been stationed around the family’s home to prevent them from meeting with human rights workers or journalists. As a result, the family is said to be afraid to hire a lawyer to represent them or to go to the prosecutor’s office.
“The Egyptian authorities should be leaving no stone unturned to find the truth about what happened to cause an apparently fit and healthy man to die within hours of his arrest,” Smart said.
Belal was a soldering workshop worker and a former petroleum company employee until he was arrested in 2006 for reasons that remain unclear. He used to be a member of various Salafi groups and was married with a one-year-old child.
Despite numerous attempts, Belal’s family has been unreachable for comment.