Victim of Egyptian police torture says ‘officers were helping me’

Al Ahram reports: Hamada Saber, the man who was dragged and beaten by Central Security Forces (CSF) as recorded on a video aired by Al-Hayat satellite TV on Friday night, told prosecutors on Saturday that protesters and not security forces “initiated” the assault against him, according to a report on Ahram Arabic news website.

The one-and-a-half minute video that shocked Egypt and the world showed an unarmed, naked Saber repeatedly kicked by police officers, dragged on the asphalt and beaten with batons as CSF officers battled anti-Morsi protesters in the vicinity of the presidential Palace on Friday night.

Speaking from a police hospital where he is recieving medical treatment, the 50 year old house-painter told investigators that the CSF officers protected him, adding that “the ministry of interior is standing by my side and they are providing me with medical care.”

However, late on Friday night, in a phone call also to ONTV, Reda Sobhi, Saber’s nephew, had condemned the police attack on his uncle saying Saber was peacefully attending the protest with his wife and children.

“God is our only saviour,” Sobhi told the Satellite channel ONTV in desperation saying he and lawyers failed to locate his uncle’s whereabouts in the hours after the video of the assault was aired as police declined to give them exact information of where they took Saber.

However, in a shocking turnaround of events on Saturday, Saber and his wife, speaking from the same police hospital the CSF transferred Saber to in the wake of their assault on him, seemed to blame the protesters for the bulk of the suffering he was subjected to on the previous night.

“I was standing at Roxy Square [near the palace] drinking a soda, when a large number of protesters who mistook me for a CSF officer because of my black attire attacked me and stripped me of my clothes,” said Saber.

“The protesters were angered by the fact that I tried to dissuade them from firing bird shots at the police,” claimed Saber.

Fathya, the assaulted man’s wife who was by his bedside at the police hospital, sent a message of gratitude to the ministry of interior.

“The police are very respectful and are standing by our side, and the minister’s assistant for human rights has passed by and will come again tomorrow [Saturday],” Fathya told ONTV.

Moreover, on Saturday night, Saber, told state TV that he was caught in the fight between protesters and the police.

“The protesters fired an unknown bullet at me and robbed me. When I saw the CSF soldiers coming at the crowd, I was scared and I ran. The soldiers chased after me yelling they wanted to help me. When I fell, they caught me and said: ‘you gave us a hard time, man.'”

Police and presidency conduct immediate damage control

Immediately after the gruesome assault video hit channels and social media outlets worldwide on Friday night, the ministry of interior issued a statement condemning the attack, and vowed to open an immediate inquiry.

As the Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim faced angry calls for him to resign, the statement assured the public that “the ministry rejects the involvement of its officers in such assaults which affect the relationship between the people and the police.”

As many activists held President Morsi politically responsible for the assault on Saber because of his publicly stated, unconditional support for police actions against protesters, the presidency also issued a statement condemning the assault.

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