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EGYPT: Judges victims of police brutality, report says

September 24, 2008 |  3:11 am

Riot_policeIn reports of another show of Egyptian police brutality, two judges were allegedly beaten by three police officers Monday in the departure hall of the Luxor airport on grounds that they did not carry valid tickets.

According to a report in al-Masry al-Youm daily, the police tried to force the justices out of the departure hall after refusing to acknowledge their electronic tickets. The judges were insulted and punched by the policemen, according to the newspaper.

A police source speaking to the local press on condition of anonymity said that negotiations were underway to reach reconciliation. Yet, the judges said no reconciliation was conceivable and that the cops should be prosecuted.

(In photo at right, riot police chase a man during protests in the northern city of Mahalla earlier this year.)

The incident again calls attention to Egypt’s poor human rights record -- even those who mete out law and order may not be immune to abuse and humiliation. According to local human rights organizations, torture is practiced systematically by Egyptian police.

Human rights have long been a point of contention between Cairo and Western capitals. Earlier this week, the release of the U.S. State Department 10th annual report on international religious freedom dealt a blow to the Egyptian government.

The report states that “although there were some positive steps in support of religious freedom, the status of respect for religious freedom by the government declined overall during the period covered by this report.”

The Egyptian government, as it usually does when criticized, disputed the validity of the U.S. report and blamed outside forces for meddling: “The report contains false information and interferes with matters that only concern the Egyptian society and government. It is not acceptable from external parties to interfere with purely Egyptian domestic matters,” said Hossam Zaki, the foreign ministry’s official spokesman. 

— Noha El-Hennawy in Cairo

Photo credit: Associated Press / Nasser Nasser

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