CAIRO (Dispatches) – A leading Egyptian activist who was arrested amid a recent clampdown following anti-government protests has been tortured, threatened and stripped to his underwear while in custody, according to his family.
Mona Seif wrote on Twitter that her brother, Alaa Abdel Fattah, told his lawyers he was blindfolded and threatened that he would never set foot outside Tora, one of Cairo's most notorious prisons, Al-Jazeera reported.
In a statement, the family reported the details the 37-year-old relayed to his lawyers.
"He was told to strip to his underwear, then forced to talk down a corridor of people as he was beaten on his back and his neck," the statement said, adding, "This is known as the 'welcome parade' and is routine abuse in Egypt’s prisons. It lasted 15 minutes."
The statement announced that Abdel Fattah's clothes were stolen, leaving him only in his underwear.
Seif told The Associated Press news agency her brother had filed a legal complaint about the alleged abuses with the State Security prosecutors during a hearing on Wednesday to renew his pre-trial detention.
However, the family said it feared the retaliation of prison authorities.
Egypt’s government sentenced 42 people to death in September amid calls for an end to executions ordered after "unfair" trials, a report says.
The London-based al-Araby al-Jadeed newspaper reported on Wednesday that the figure was according to data provided by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, an independent human rights organization. The death sentences were related to 13 different cases.
The sentencing papers of 21 other defendants in five cases were referred to the grand mufti, Egypt’s top Muslim religious authority, who reviews all death sentences.
The daily noted that Egyptian rights groups, including El Shehab for Human Rights, have launched a campaign, dubbed "Stop Executions in Egypt,” on the occasion of the World Day Against the Death Penalty, which is observed every year on October 10.
The campaigners say their movement is against "unfair, political rulings against dissidents” as well as trials that are "based on fake evidence, enforced disappearance and torture the defendants said they were subjected to in order to extract confessions from them in crimes they did not commit.”
"These death sentences were issued by illegal departments within the so-called terrorism departments and military courts that lack the minimum standards for fair trials as documented by the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms, the international organizations and other rights groups.”
The daily said Egyptian rights groups have reported a large-scale expansion in the use of death penalty in Egypt as the frequency of death sentences issued in political and criminal cases increased in 2018.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has long been facing international condemnation for a crackdown on civil society groups since he took power in 2014, a year after a military coup spearheaded by him toppled the country’s first ever democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi.