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Tahrir Doctors, rights groups at odds over alleged torture victim.

CAIRO: During investigations by the Prosecutor General on Sunday, prison inmates who knew alleged torture victim Essam Atta said that he neither smoked cigarettes nor hashish.

According to Atta's family lawyer Malek Adly, who works with the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, other police officers summoned as witnesses also said that Atta did not use drugs.

Adly told Daily News Egypt that Atta's brother, who also gave his witness account on Sunday, said that Essam was tortured from Tuesday to Thursday with hoses that were shoved into his mouth and anus, and pumped with soapy water.

On Friday afternoon, Atta's body underwent an autopsy, but the official report has not come out yet, despite an initial announcement that it was going to be filed the following day.

The autopsy was attended by two members of Tahrir Doctors, a group of independent doctors who provided on-site medical treatment to protesters during the January uprising.

The organization issued a statement early Saturday in which they said that they did not see any signs of torture on Atta's body.

Doctor Mohamed Fatouh, head of Tahrir Doctors, said that the organization neither confirms nor denies that Atta was tortured to death.

"We are just describing what we saw," said Fatouh.

Adly, however, said that he will seek a new autopsy, adding that he does not trust Tahrir Doctors.

"I am the family lawyer and I did not ask the so-called Tahrir Doctors to attend the autopsy. Besides, how can they issue a statement before the results of the lab samples are out?" he asked.

According to Fatouh, doctors Mohamed Maged and Ahmed Seyam attended the autopsy from the very beginning, but Seyam was the only one who stayed through to the end.

According to the organization's statement, there were no marks on Atta's body except for a bruise on the right side of the chest.

"There was neither external nor internal bleeding in Atta's body," said Fatouh.

The statement said the autopsy found two surgical glove fingers stuffed with two kinds of drugs inside his body, one of which is two centimeters wide and five centimeters long filled with cannabis.

They added that the encapsulated latex roll contained a "substance that resembles hashish and 6-9 liquidated pills" inside the stomach.

"This is a new Khaled Saeid case. Can anybody swallow this size of hashish wrap?" said Adly.

Adly criticized the Tahrir Doctors' observations, saying that there should have been a family member attending the autopsy but that none of them were allowed inside.

He pointed out that it was illegal for a police officer to attend the autopsy and that he plans to file a complaint to the Prosecutor General concerning that.

"When the prosecutor ordered an autopsy to be carried out, it based on the Ministry of Interior's claim that Essam's body might contain drugs," said Adly.

He explained that the way Atta was tortured does not necessarily leave bruise marks on the body.

Fatouh explained that according to autopsy regulations, only the forensics doctors of Zeinhom morgue are allowed to attend the procedure.

"Only one member of the victims' relatives is allowed in exceptional circumstances, but in this case Essam's uncle refused to attend," he said.

Daily News Egypt witnessed that none of the victim's family were given the option to attend the autopsy, even Atta's father was turned down despite repeated requests to attend. The father was eventually admitted towards the end of the procedure.

Fatouh explained that the forensics doctors allowed his NGO to observe the autopsy to allay the widespread mistrust towards forensics doctors.

He added that Aida Seif Al-Dawla, of the El Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture, was allowed in after the autopsy was completed.

In a statement on El-Nadeem's website, Seif El-Dawla said that doctors on the case told her there was no evidence of bleeding, and when she questioned them about the proceedings, they told her dismissively: "Why don't you take gloves and do it yourself?"

She compared the case to that of Khaled Saeid when they showed her a wrap which they say they found in Atta's body.

She explained that there was neither the proper equipment nor trained doctors to order the necessary tests to determine the cause of death and whether Atta died as a result of drug toxicity or internal bleeding.

According to Seif El-Dawla, if the right samples were taken and preserved the tests can still be done at a later date.

Daily NewsEgypt 2011

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Publication:Daily News Egypt (Egypt)
Date:Oct 30, 2011
Words:755
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