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Cablegate: Goe Prosecutes State Security Officer On Torture

VZCZCXYZ0027
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHEG #3874 1721538
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 211538Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9376
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS CAIRO 003874

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NSC STAFF FOR SINGH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL KDEM EG
SUBJECT: GOE PROSECUTES STATE SECURITY OFFICER ON TORTURE
CHARGES

REF: CAIRO 3270

Sensitive but unclassified. Please protect accordingly.

1. (SBU) In a notable break with past practice, GOE prosecutors have moved to prosecute a State Security officer on torture charges. In recent years, there has been a modest trend of successful prosecutions of regular police officials on torture and abuse charges in Egyptian criminal courts. Personnel working for the State Security Investigative Services (SSIS), however, have not previously faced
prosecution for abuse of detainees. This has led Human Rights Watch and other respected observers to complain of "a culture of impunity" within the elite Egyptian security services regarding investigation, prosecution, and punishment of personnel for torture and abuse.

2. (SBU) According to recent media accounts, the prosecutor's office at the East Cairo Criminal Court has referred an SSIS captain, Ashraf Mostafa Hussein Safwat Abdul Qader, to trial for the alleged torture resulting in death of detainee Mohammed Abdul Qader El-Sayed. According to press reports and materials published by human rights
organizations, El-Sayed died on September 21, 2003, after being detained and interrogated by Captain Ashraf Mostafa starting on September 16. El-Sayed's corpse bore marks consistent with torture, including severe bruising about the head and body and electrical burns on the genitals. We do not know why El-Sayed was detained. The first hearing in the prosecution of Captain Ashraf Mostafa on June 20, 2006 was closed to all but SSIS officials.

3. (SBU) Human rights activists have cautiously welcomed the GOE decision to prosecute, noting that previous attempts to prosecute SSIS officials for torture have not progressed beyond the investigation stage. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX termed the referral of the officer to trial as "very
positive" and "unprecedented." XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX asserted that the case could have "huge" implications since an apparent de facto GOE ban on prosecuting SSIS officers has been broken. Both activists agreed that the case merits close scrutiny in order to determine if the GOE is in fact considering a new, harder line against SSIS officers accused of torture. Post will follow and report on significant developments in this case.
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