Top News: Sinai State Reportedly Kills Father, Son in Public Square; Three Soldiers Killed in Sinai Blast

Journalists in North Sinai have said that a man and his son were killed by members of Sinai State in a public square in the city of al-Arish on Monday. Journalist and al-Arish resident Ahmed Abu Darea told Daily News Egypt, “Four masked people drove into al-Fakhwaryia Square after kidnapping the victims. They began firing their weapons as soon as they reached the square. They killed the son first and then slaughtered his father. All this happened in five minutes.” Activists have reportedly said that Egypt’s Islamic State affiliate, Sinai State, was behind the attack, with gruesome photos published on social media showing the father was beheaded. Abu Darea added that this was the first incident of its kind in al-Arish. The Ministry of Interior, however, issued a statement saying that Rady Soliman Abu Sabie and his son Soliman were killed by three men over a dispute. The statement made no mention of Sinai State. Sinai State sympathizers circulated a message on social media claiming the militant group killed the men for collaborating with the army, but the group has not released an official statement. Meanwhile, three soldiers were reportedly killed and at least one injured Wednesday in an attack on an army patrol near Sinai’s Sheikh Zuweid. The Armed Forces has yet to issue official details on the attack, while the Sinai State claimed responsibility, circulating images of the attack on social media. [DNE, 3/2/2016]


MP Haitham al-Hariri supports AFTE lawsuit against parliament
The Administrative Court postponed Tuesday the ruling on a lawsuit, filed by the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), to broadcast parliamentary sessions to March 5, according to an AFTE statement. MP Haitham al-Hariri announced his support of the AFTE lawsuit and demanded that the parliament broadcast its sessions and launch a website to publish news and updates following each session in a timely fashion, according to AFTE. Following the postponement of the lawsuit, the association responded with the trending hashtag #Return_Broadcast, calling on the parliament to broadcast the sessions to citizens, which it argued would promote trust between MPs and the general population. AFTE also questioned the parliament’s motives behind its insistence not to broadcast sessions, speculating that it is hiding something from the people it should serve. In other news, the parliament reportedly agreed to form a committee to visit Sinai in the coming days, per a Wednesday request by members. MP Hossam Tawfik made the request , which was put to a vote. The plans to visit Sinai come after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called on parliamentarians to visit prisons, Sinai, and Nubia in southern Egypt in February. Meanwhile, the parliamentary committee tasked with investigating MP Tawfiq Okasha’s meeting with the Israeli ambassador has reportedly recommended a year-long suspension from the parliament. The committee is scheduled to present its investigative report before parliament Wednesday. [DNE, Cairo Post, 3/2/2016]


Military court confirms seven death sentences for Kafr al-Sheikh bombing
The Alexandria Military Court approved death sentences for seven defendants in the Kafr al-Sheikh stadium case on Wednesday in which three military academy students were killed. Five other defendants were sentenced to life, two received 15-year sentences, two received three-year sentences. Six of them were sentenced in absentia. The sixteen defendants were on trial for charges of murder, committing acts of terror, and for belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood group. The No to Military Trials for Civilians group issued a statement in anticipation of the verdict calling for the “annulment of death sentences already passed and the retrial of all civilians before a civilian judge with all guarantees for serving justice.” The court issued a preliminary death sentence to the seven defendants in February 2016. The sentences were referred to the Grand Mufti who upheld them. [DNE, Cairo Post, 3/2/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Plea filed to suspend imprisonment verdict against novelist Ahmed Naji | DNE
  • Hisham Gaafar detention extended despite his poor health | DNE


Egypt seen raising interest rates as pressures mount
Rising yields on Egyptian treasuries signal the market is expecting the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to raise interest rates this month to dampen inflation and ease mounting pressure on the currency, bankers and economists say. Egypt cancelled a treasury bond sale on Monday as yields soared, with banks apparently unwilling to fund increasingly expensive and risky borrowing. The CBE raised interest rates by 50 basis points in December. However the move did not immediately feed into treasury yields as state-owned banks bid down rates at regular auctions to minimize the cost of government borrowing, bankers said. The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) kept rates on hold last month. Economists expect it will hike rates at the next meeting on March 17. “The yields on treasuries… are signalling that the market is expecting a hike in interest rates in the upcoming MPC meeting, which in our view is definitely the expected direction in 2016,” said Senior Economist at CI Capital Hany Farahat. [Reuters, 3/1/2016]

Egypt to double natural gas production by mid-2017
Egypt will double its natural gas production by the second quarter of 2017 as a result of discoveries made in 2015, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said Tuesday. Italian oil and gas company Eni made discoveries of gas in August 2015 that reach a potential of 15 billion cubic feet in Egypt’s Delta region. The upsurge in production will contribute to advancing development projects in different fields including industrial sector, Ismail said. He also said the upcoming period will require an increase in the resources available to the state budget. “There is no substitute for reform, especially in the administrative field, in order to achieve our development goals,” he said. [Aswat Masriya, 3/2/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Japan to fund projects worth LE18 billion, host 2,500 Egyptian students | Ahram Online, AMAY, Mada Masr
  • Egypt’s Domty prices shares at up to $1.45 in planned float | Reuters
  • 0 percent occupancy rate at 70 Red Sea hotels | Cairo Post
  • Egypt’s Suez Canal revenues drop to $411.8 million in January | Reuters


Despite closure order, Nadeem reports Interior Ministry violations in February 2016
The Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Violence of Victims released a report Monday highlighting violations by the Ministry of Interior in February 2016. The center continued its work documenting violations via social media despite a warrant for closure from the Ministry of Health. The report stated 111 people were killed in February alone, including 65 extra-judicial killings, 35 air bombings, eight disputes with low-ranking police officers, one torture case, and one death from being thrown off a building. Eight people died in detention due to torture, medical negligence, and gas poisoning. Eighty-eight cases of torture and 42 cases of police brutality occurred in February according to the report. The report also documented 155 cases of enforced disappearances, 44 cases of reappeared persons after an enforced disappearance, and 44 cases of medical negligence in detention including nine patients diagnosed with cancer. In a special report on al-Aqrab prison, the Nadeem Center highlighted several violations including poor living conditions, assaults by police, and a lack of prison visits. The center also issued a detailed report on the murder of Italian student Giulio Regeni, saying that Italy was more active taking action and investigating his death. In related news, seven members of the semi-governmental National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) inspected a Minya prison Monday. The NCHR statement made no mention of poor conditions in the prison, but said that ministry officials confirmed they would take the council’s advice and demands into consideration in accordance with prison laws. Meanwhile, Egyptian journalists are staging a protest on Wednesday evening in front of the Press Syndicate to bring attention to the harsh conditions detained journalists are facing in prison. [DNE, 3/2/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Actress arrested and assaulted for ‘attacking police checkpoint’ | DNE
  • Activists say verdict against Egyptian TV presenter Riham Saeed paves way for media accountability | Aswat Masriya
  • Amid low turnout, Independence Current wins big at Engineers Syndicate elections | Mada Masr
  • Sharqiya police disperse protest by wives of detained policemen | Cairo Post


Forensic Authority, Justice Ministry deny reports about Italian student’s repeated torture
The Egyptian Justice Minister’s Forensics Aide said Tuesday that media reports about the repeated torture of an Italian student prior to his murder in Cairo are “lies.” The aide, Shaaban al-Shamy, denied that Forensics Authority head Hisham Abdel-Hamid told prosecutors that the autopsy of 28-year-old Giulio Regeni showed that he was tortured in sporadic intervals spanning seven days prior to his death. Shamy added that Abdel-Hamid neither testified in front of the prosecution nor was he asked to. Abdel-Hamid said on Wednesday that he had not met with prosecutors or made statements to them regarding signs of torture on student’s body, as suggested by Reuters. He also denied making any statements that indicated that Regeni had been tortured over a period of several days in order to gain information. “That piece of news is totally fabricated and untrue,” he said in a statement on Wednesday, urging media outlets to be more careful in dealing with information relating to Forensics Authority reports. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Cairo Post, 3/1/2016]

Egypt’s Sisi arrives in South Korea in last Asia stop
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi arrived in South Korea in the last stop of his Asia tour that included Kazakhstan and Japan. During the three-day visit, Sisi is due to hold talks Thursday with South Korean President Park Geun-hye and will also meet with senior Korean government officials and business leaders to address means of boosting Korean investment in Egypt, state news agency MENA reported. Following his visit to Japan, Egypt and Japan issued a joint communiqué on Wednesday. Egyptian Presidential Spokesman Alaa Youssef said the statement affirms Japan’s support for Egypt’s efforts to achieve economic and social reforms, citing the Sharm al-Sheikh economic conference in March 2015, the activation of the new investment law, the opening of the new Suez Canal, and the introduction of reforms to the educational and health domains. Sisi said Egypt welcomes Japanese investment and has taken several measures to facilitate foreign investment by introducing new laws and solving energy problems. [Ahram Online, DNE, SIS, 3/2/2016]

Also of Interest

  • World Food Program restores food assistance to Syrian refugees including in Egypt | Ahram Online
  • Egypt secures release of 43 citizens in Saudi Arabia | Ahram Online