Egypt pressed over 'torture' of Britons

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 28 Sep 2002 22:12:17 +0100

The Egyptian government has been pressed to speed up investigations into
claims that three Britons charged with attempting to overthrow the state
have been tortured and forced to make false confessions. 
At a meeting with Egypt's prosecutor-general in Cairo this week,
Britain's ambassador, John Sawyer, raised concerns about the fairness of
the trial due to be held next month in the emergency high state security
court. 

Maajid Nawaz, 24, Ian Nisbet, 28, and Reza Pankhurst, 27, will appear
alongside 23 Egyptian members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, known as the Islamic
Liberation party. The authorities in Cairo allege the group's aim is to
establish an Islamic state ruled by sharia law. 

The men face up to 25 years in prison if found guilty. The Egyptian
security court operates under emergency laws introduced in 1981 when
President Anwar Sadat was assassinated by Islamist militants. 

The Britons, two of whom are students, were arrested in dawn raids
across Egypt on April 1. All three have been charged with promoting the
aims of an illegal group which advocates "overthrow of the Egyptian
infidel state". Mr Pankhurst has also been charged with distributing
propaganda material for Hizb ut-Tahrir and for using a computer to
support the party. 

"Ian was taken to the torture dungeons where they put a blindfold on
him, shackled his legs and tied his hands with rope," said Humera
Nisbet, 28, who was with her husband when eight armed police burst into
their flat at 2am. 

"He was beaten across the face, body and hands. They wanted to make my
husband confess to knowing certain people. He was deprived of food,
sleep and the use of a toilet. Sometimes he was taken into another cell
and forced to watch other people being tortured. Later they let him
sleep on a concrete floor. I have only been allowed to exchange letters
with him that have been screened by security officials." 

The Egyptian authorities arrested him, Ian's wife said, because of his
membership of Hizb ut-Tahrir. " The organisation does not advocate
violence." 

Another of the Britons, Maajid Nawaz, was also studying in Egypt. He was
enrolled at Alexandria University on a foreign exchange programme
organised by London University's School of Oriental and African Studies.
Mr Pankhurst was working with a computer company in Egypt. 

A month ago, a fourth Briton who had been arrested at the same time, was
released. Hassan Rizvi, 23, from Mitcham, south London, was a student at
Exeter University studying Arabic and spending a year abroad to improve
his language skills. He was not a member of the Liberation party. 

"I was blindfolded and handcuffed and taken to the loc al police station
at Alexandria," he said. "I was slapped with the full swing of a hand.
My hands were forced into a toilet. There were electric shock rods
brought up to my face." 

The British ambassador met Egypt's prosecutor-general, Maher Abdul
Waheed, in Cairo on Thursday. A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office
confirmed that he had "put our concerns about the fairness of the trial
and given a reminder that we have asked for the allegations of
mistreatment to be investigated". 

The Egyptian embassy in London dismissed the claims of mistreatment.
"These men have been visited twice a week by the British consul and they
have used mobile telephones so they can talk to their families in
Britain," said a spokesman. "There's no bad treatment. No one has been
electrocuted." 

Source:  The Guardian

 

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