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Video clip showing Egyptian police, army torturing detainees sparks public outcry
CAIRO (AP) ' Egypt's military prosecutor said Wednesday it has opened an inquiry into a video showing a dozen Egyptian police and military officers beating and giving electric shocks to two detainees while laughing and filming the torture with their cell phones.
The video circulating on social networking sites shows the two men, one in a gray Egyptian robe and the second in a green shirt, being beaten repeatedly while they are questioned about the source of guns and rifles seized from them in the northern Nile Delta province of Dakahliya. When they refused to answer, the detainees are repeatedly given electric shocks on their ears and chins.
The footage was a reminder of much-hated police practices under ousted President Hosni Mubarak's rule that served as one of the motivating forces behind the popular uprising that toppled Mubarak's regime in February.
"This is a crime," said Malik Adly, a lawyer and activist at the Hisham Mubarak Law Center. "The presence of military police inside a civilian police station, and beating up detainees to force them to confess, is kidnapping."
A security official said that the two men were arrested and sentenced to up to 15-year in prison for arms trafficking. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.
Egypt's MENA state news agency said the military prosecutor has opened an inquiry.
Adly said that his center will file a lawsuit to the public prosecutor since military investigations are highly secretive and rights lawyers have never had access to the files of the cases.
"The mentality of the police and the military has not changed," he said. "This is no surprise to us because it is happening everyday, to every detainee."
"Imagine these people are responsible for your security and they behave like animals," he said.
Also Wednesday, Egypt's powerful former information minister was convicted of corruption and sentenced to seven years in prison, in the latest conviction of a high-ranking figure of Mubarak's regime.
Anas el-Fiqqi joins a growing list of former regime officials to have been convicted of crimes committed during Mubarak's rule, along with the ex-interior minister, tourism minister and a ruling party insider and steel magnate. Former state television chief Osama el-Sheikh also was sentenced Wednesday to five years in prison in the same case as el-Fiqqi.
Meting out justice to former regime officials has been a driving force behind continued protests and activists have accused the country's military rulers of dragging their heels in the prosecution of former Mubarak cronies.
El-Fiqqi was acquitted earlier this year of other charges, including channeling state money to help Mubarak's party election campaigns.
After the Cairo court announced its verdict, the families and supporters of the defendants broke out in chants, scuffled with one another and directed slurs at the judges. "Invalid, Invalid," the crowd chanted.