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Journalist brutally assaulted by police, faces trumped-up charges

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Three rights organisations - ANHRI, the Arab Council for the Support of a Fair Trial and the Hisham Mubarak Law Center - submitted a petition to a deputy minister on 21 June 2008, demanding an investigation into the brutal assault of journalist Kamal Murad of "Al-Fajr" newspaper by three police officers on 17 June. The police officers, who are from Rahmanya Centre in Buhaira Governate in the Delta region, badly beat Murad, verbally insulted him and seized his private notes and mobile memory card. This assault and seizure followed Murad's exposure of an influence peddling case involving a local trader and his two police officer sons.

On Tuesday 17 June, Murad was arrested after interviewing peasants in Ezbat Mohram in Rahmanya Centre. Murad also took photos of police beating the peasants in order to force them to sign lease contracts with a landlord. The police officers conducted these beatings as a courtesy to their friends and police colleagues who are the sons of the landlord. The police officers beat Murad, insulted him and arrested him.

Three hours after his detention, Murad was shocked to be charged with attacking the police officers and inciting the peasants against the security forces.

This incident is believed to be revenge for Murad's role in a recent and famous torture case (known as Emad el-Kabir's case). Murad published a story about the torture of driver Emad el- Kabir by police officer Ismal Nabih. The officer was sentenced to three years in prison. Many of the police officers that attacked him while outside the Rahmanya Prosecutor's office told Murad, "You will see, you who sent the officer to jail for three years."

Despite Murad's release by the Prosecutor's office, police officers still have his mobile memory card, which contains photos of the officers assaulting the peasants and the huge banquets given to the officers by the landlord for their help in quelling the farmers, as well as his private notes, which include a draft of the interviews he made with the peasants and their statements.

Abd al-Gawad Ahmed, advocate and director of the Arab Council for the Support of a Fair Trial, submitted a petition to the Deputy General, which included accusations made by Murad and the three rights organisations against each of the three officers: Mohamed Badrawy, Amr Allam and Mohamed Basiouni.

The assistant to the Deputy General has referred the case file to the concerned prosecutor in Damanhur city, capital of El-Buhaira Governorate, as required.

"The police brutality against Kamal Murad reaffirms their motivation to take revenge against a brave journalist, who revealed a major torture case in Egypt and succeeded in cooperating with Egyptian bloggers to bring the perpetrator, police officer Islam Nabih, to justice. The ball is in the Interior Minister's court now. He must turn his written declaration about ending torture into obligatory decisions to deter perpetrators from crossing the line," said Gamal Eid, executive director of ANHRI.

The three rights organisations are working together to defend Kamal Murad and bring the officers to court, as a step towards eliminating impunity and limiting the torture and ill-treatment that has extended to journalists.

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