Top News: Egyptian Policeman Sentenced to Eight Years for Murder, Torture

An Egyptian criminal court sentenced a police officer in Egypt’s eastern city of Ismailia to eight years in jail for beating a man to death in custody and falsifying police records, judicial sources said on Tuesday. The court sentenced officer Mohamed Ibrahim to five years for “torture and beating leading to death” and three years for falsifying police records regarding the case. The verdict can be appealed. The case dates back to late November when veterinarian Afifi Hassan Afifi reportedly died while being interrogated by the police. In a video that went viral on social media, Afifi is seen in his wife’s pharmacy when four men in plain clothes entered and took him away. Afifi’s case attracted public attention, especially as it came as part of slew of cases of alleged police torture. His funeral triggered protests against police violence. [Ahram Online, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, AP, Mada Masr, 2/9/2016]


Egypt MP Emad Gad asks parliament to ‎change his political affiliation
Egyptian MP Emad Gad announced ‎Tuesday that he has officially informed ‎parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Al of his ‎resignation from the Free Egyptians Party and ‎that he wants to act as an independent MP. ‎Gad, elected to parliament as a member of the ‎liberal Free Egyptians Party and is a high-profile political analyst affiliated with Al-Ahram Press Organization, said that he personally submitted his resignation to Abdel-Al over the failure of his party to pass on his request to the parliament speaker. Gad said, “The parliament speaker should put my ‎resignation from the Free Egyptians Party to a ‎vote when parliament meets in a plenary ‎session next Saturday and MPs should ‎decide whether I can become an independent ‎MP or lose my parliamentary membership ‎altogether.”‎ Parliament Secretary General Ahmed Saad al-Deen also said Tuesday that he sent MP Sirri Siam’s resignation request to speaker of the house Ali Abdel Aal for a final decision. [Ahram Online, DNE, 2/9/2016]

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Court acquits Mubarak’s Information Minister of corruption charges
Anas al-Fiky, Egypt’s Minister of Information during former President Hosni Mubarak’s rule, was acquitted of corruption by a Cairo criminal court in his retrial Wednesday. Fiky, who served in public office for nearly 10 years, had been referred by prosecutors to court on accusations of “illegally obtaining” EGP 33.4 million ($4.3 million). The former minister was acquitted after the Court of Cassation accepted his appeal on the verdict previously handed to him in the case–a year with hard labor and a fine of EGP 1.8 million ($230,000). Fiky is not in custody but the verdict is subject to further appeal by the public prosecution, which is the body that has the authority to appeal not-guilty verdicts. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 2/10/2016]  

Egyptian journalist Magdy al-Galad referred to court for ‘spreading false information’
Public prosecution referred Magdy al-Galad, former Editor-in-Chief of the local newspaper al-Watan, along with two other journalists, to criminal court on Tuesday on charges of spreading “false information.” A legal representative of Cairo University filed a complaint to the public prosecution, in which he accused the privately-owned al-Watan of spreading false information by publishing a report claiming the university and teaching hospital affiliated with it were wasting public money by supplying the hospital with “unsuitable” equipment. Public prosecution stated that investigations revealed the report to be untrue. The Cairo Court of Appeals decided that the journalists will stand trial in front of the criminal court on March 7. Galad is currently not in custody. [Aswat Masriya, 2/10/2016]

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  • Supreme Constitutional Court to accept petition to challenge Property Tax law | DNE


In Egypt, medicines disappear from shelves amid dollar shortage
Declines in the value of the Egyptian pound and a shortage of foreign exchange have made it harder for Egyptian pharmaceutical companies to import active ingredients they need to make generic medicines. Though medicines are classed as essential goods, which puts them high on the priority list at banks deciding how to allocate dollars, pharmaceutical companies say they still face serious problems that have forced them to slow or pause production. A weaker currency has also made it more expensive to import raw materials, while the price of finished medicines remains fixed by the Health Ministry. This has forced manufacturers to stop producing some cheap generic medicines. Head of the Health Ministry’s Drug Shortages Directorate (DSD) acknowledged that Egypt’s dollar crisis is exacerbating shortages. He said the Health Ministry is looking at raising prices to encourage production. Medical professionals, however, say the shortages are more widespread and urgent than the official figures suggest. [Reuters, 2/10/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt’s stocks down on Tuesday, foreign investors keep selling | Ahram Online
  • Bunge Ltd challenges Egypt over rejected French wheat cargo | Reuters
  • Egypt’s annual core inflation increases to 7.73 percent in January | Reuters
  • Egypt’s annual urban consumer inflation falls to 10.7 percent in January | Reuters
  • Egypt’s Beltone Financial prepares IPOs worth more than EGP 10 billion | DNE
  • Bank recommends grace period for tourism investors, cites financial crisis | Cairo Post


Women’s rights organizations decry discrimination by State Council
NGOs and women’s rights organizations warned against continued discrimination by judicial bodies, ahead of a new round of appointments for assistant representatives at the State Council. Eleven organizations, including the New Woman Foundation, Nazra for Feminist Studies, and El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, issued a joint statement condemning the continued exclusion of women from judicial positions at the council. The State Council–responsible for resolving cases related to administrative decrees and disputes, as well as disputes related to contracts with the state, and compensations–announced it was opening the door for applications for the entry-level position of assistant representative on Monday, with the opportunity to be promoted to judge, from law and police graduates. “Although the State Council is an independent judicial body, which settles disputes between citizens and the state under guidance of the law and the constitution, it still has not appointed any qualified female graduates,” the statement read. Established in 1946, the council did not allow the appointment of women until 2009, when it announced that female graduates could apply to become judges. However, later in 2010, a general assembly of the council convened to vote against appointing women as judges. Since then, the jobs at the council have been labelled “for men only,” as described by the New Woman Foundation. [DNE, 2/9/2016]

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  • Cairo University professor exposes security intervention in academic freedoms | Mada Masr


Interior Minister says police foiled Brotherhood, foreign organizations’ plans on Jan 25 anniversary
Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar defended the Egyptian government’s security procedures in a press conference on Monday, claiming that that security forces thwarted plans to incite chaos on January 25 and rejected claims that security forces were involved in the death of Cambridge PhD student and Italian national Giulio Regeni. According to Abdel Ghaffar, there were several plans by foreign organizations to incite chaos on the anniversary of the January 25 Revolution. However, security forces managed to uncover and abort these plans before the anniversary. He also claimed that Muslim Brotherhood followers are collaborating with foreign organizations to destabilize Egypt with no consideration for national security. During the press conference, Abdel Ghaffar commented, for the first time, on TV anchor Shady Hussein and actor Ahmed Malik, who are being investigated for a prank in which they distributed condom balloons to security forces on the January 25 anniversary. “We’ll leave it to society to punish them,” Abdel Ghaffar commented, prompting remarks on the obscurity of the statement, and its intent. Hussein’s lawyer Tarek al-Awady said Abdel Ghaffar’s statements constitute incitement. “The minister’s statement supports the threats Hussein received from police officers, which could result in his harm if he appears in public,” he said. The ministry also announced, in a promotional video broadcast Monday, details about six alleged “terrorist cells” that were arrested and thwarted during security campaigns ahead of the anniversary of the January 25 Revolution. [DNE, 2/9/2016]

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Sisi says Egypt supports UN-backed efforts to form national unity government in Libya
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met on Tuesday with Libyan parliament head Aguila Saleh to stress Egypt’s support of the UN-backed political roadmap in Libya and the importance of having a unified government. Sisi told Saleh that Egypt is willing to provide support to Libya in working towards establishing stability and security, Egyptian Presidential Spokesperson Alaa Youssef said in a statement. Saleh expressed in the meeting Libya’s keenness to coordinate with Egypt in moving ahead with the political process in Libya. Sisi also stressed on the importance of lifting the arms embargo on Libya so as to help in the country’s fight against terrorism. In an interview with the Washington Post on Monday, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said the international community should not intervene against Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) expansion in Libya until a Libyan government is formed and requests such assistance. Shoukry echoed these statements in a Tuesday interview with Reuters, in which he acknowledged efforts to forge a single government in Libya have been “difficult.” Meanwhile, in an interview with AP Monday, Brig. Gen. Saqr al-Jaroushi, Libya’s Air Force Chief of Staff, said four civilians were killed in Derna by an airstrike the day before. Jaroushi says that strike was carried out by a “neighboring country,” in a thinly-veiled reference to Egypt. [Ahram Online, DNE, MENA, 2/10/2016]

Egypt’s Shoukry, Kerry discuss security challenges, cooperation
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met with US Secretary of State John Kerry Tuesday as part of his three-day visit to Washington D.C. In a press conference held on Tuesday, Shoukry affirmed the significance of the Egyptian-US strategic relationship and expressed the desire to further strengthen bilateral relations and heighten cooperation. Kerry applauded Egypt’s efforts with regards to the Syrian crisis and asserted that Egypt plays a pivotal role in the region. Approaching the end of the press conference, Kerry mentioned that Egypt is in coordination with Israel, Jordan, and the United States regarding Sinai and its eastern border with Gaza in particular. Kerry added that Egypt’s role in the Israeli-Palestinian political process was discussed in their meeting. Shoukri described his meetings with US officials as “fruitful,” adding that US-Egypt relations have been the keystone of Egypt’s foreign policy. Meanwhile, Ambassador David Thorne, the Senior Advisor to Secretary of State John Kerry, arrived in Cairo to meet with senior Egyptian officials, business executives, and representatives of US businesses operating in Egypt. Sarah Sewall, Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, also arrived in Cairo, where she plans to meet and talk with government officials, religious figures, and civil society leaders during her four-day visit. She also delivered remarks at the American University in Cairo on the role of women in Egypt. [Aswat Masriya, AMAY, SIS, DNE, 2/9/2016]

Regeni was killed in a house in downtown Cairo says source
Egyptian investigators have reportedly tracked the last movements and calls made by Italian national and Cambridge PhD student Giulio Regeni prior to his disappearance, concluding that the Italian researcher was killed in an apartment in downtown Cairo. DNE reports that, according to a security source, investigative authorities are interrogating a number of suspects, and people with criminal records for abduction and murder. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said again in a statement Tuesday, in response to an open letter by international academics condemning the killing of Italian student Giulio Regeni, that it is “premature” to draw conclusions on his death. “Attempts to level accusations at the Egyptian authorities without evidence could backfire,” Foreign Minister Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid said. [DNE, Ahram Online, 2/10/2016]

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  • Iraq sends troops to Egypt for military training | Cairo Post
  • Fifteen Egyptian fishermen released by Libya after 8-month detention | Cairo Post