Complaint to the Public Prosecutor for an Immediate Investigation into the Murder of Dozens of Al-Qata Prison Inmates

Press Release

10 February 2011

Update 1 March 2011: The Prosecutor for North Giza, Mahmoud Al Hefnawy, visited Al-Qata prison on 27 February, to inspect the place and register the situation, including traces of bullets impacts in the walls of the cell-blocks and traces in the prison administration and the prison hospital that caught fire. The Prosecutor also heard the testimonies of ten inmates who were injured during the shootings that started on 28 January, as well as the testimony of General Tarek Anouar from the prison administration.

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutor yesterday, Wednesday, on behalf of the families of 11 inmates at the al-Qata Prison in Giza, asking for an immediate investigation into information that reached the families indicating that the prison administration randomly opened fire on prisoners in late January, killing dozens. The EIPR and the prisoners’ families have learned that prison officers and guards used excessive force against inmates starting on the Day of Rage, Friday, January 28, 2011, ostensibly to prevent an attempt by some prisoners to organize a collective escape.

The EIPR is extremely disturbed by information suggesting that the shooting of prisoners, which persisted for at least two days, was intended as collective retribution following the death of General Mohamed al-Batran who was killed in clashes between inmates and prison guards.

“The meager information so far available about events at the Qata Prison on Friday is alarming and requires an immediate investigation by the Public Prosecutor and the indictment of officials responsible for the death and injury of dozens of prisoners,” said Hoda Nasrallah, an attorney with the EIPR.

The complaint (no. 372/2011) references information regarding several grave abuses by the prison administration, including the unnecessary use of firearms against inmates, leading to the intentional killing of dozens and the serious injury of many others, the interruption of water and electricity to the prisoners for an entire week starting on January 29, and the placement of prisoners’ corpses in the prison yard for several days with the goal of intimidating and threatening other prisoners. The complaint also noted that the prison administration prohibited inmates’ families from visiting their relatives or even bringing them food or medicine while the prisoners were being intentionally starved and intimidated and facing very grave health circumstances.

The complaint stated that available information indicates that the prison administration violated the Prison Law, even if official statements are true which claim that the clashes inside the prison began when several prisoners tried to organize an escape. Article 87 of the Prison Law permits the use of firearms only “to confront any attack or resistance by the prisoners accompanied by the use of force when guards are unable to confront it using other means, or to prevent the escape of a prisoner that cannot be prevented by other means. In this case, the first gunshot must be fired in the air; if the prisoner continues his attempt to escape after this warning, those charged with guarding him may open fire aiming at his legs.”