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Egypt: Dozens protest in Gamassa prison over death of two inmates

Security forces suppress a protest by dozens of Egyptian prisoners after death of 22-year-old Mohammed Saad al-Komi and another inmate
Mohammed Saad al-Komi, 22, an Egyptian prisoner who died in Gamassa maximum security prison, according to ENHR (Screengrab)

Dozens of Egyptian prisoners were subject to beatings in a maximum security prison over the weekend as security forces attempted to suppress a protest over the death of two inmates.

The Egyptian Network For Human Rights (ENHR) revealed on Tuesday that the disturbance came following the death in Gamassa prison of 22-year-old Mohammed Saad al-Komi, allegedly as a result of torture.

Komi, from the Shoubra district in the Cairo governorate, was serving a life sentence after killing a man when he worked in tourism at the Sharm al-Sheikh resort.

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His family was informed of his death when they visited the prison, which is located west of the coastal town of Damietta, on 20 August, without being told the exact time of death or its cause.

ENHR reported that Komi's death was caused by torture, news of which reportedly fomented anger inside Gamassa, in Dakahlia Governorate north of Cairo, where some inmates are political prisoners.

In an attempt to put down the demonstrations at the weekend, security forces beat prisoners, dragged some of them on the floor, and removed 20 of them to other prisons, according to ENHR.

Some prisoners reportedly lit fires inside their cells in protest.

Video footage showing fire inside a cell, with a man saying that 10 people were killed by the Gamassa prison administration, was shared on social media. Middle East Eye could not independently verify the footage.

ENHR said that another prisoner had also died inside Gamassa, without providing more details.

However, Egypt's Ministry of Interior denied that any deaths took place inside the prison.

Komi's death report, issued by Mansoura Hospital, said he died of "a severe drop of blood circulation".

ENHR called on Egyptian authorities "to respect the various articles of the constitution and the law, and to strive towards respecting the rights and dignity of the Egyptian human being."

Torture in Egypt

In the first 11 months of 2021, Egypt's El-Nadeem Centre for the Rehabilitation of Torture Victims documented around 93 incidents of torture in police detention, along with 54 deaths in police custody. 

The issue of torture in Egypt has been under the international spotlight since an Italian parliamentary panel accused the Egyptian security apparatus of the kidnapping, torture and murder of Italian student Giulio Regeni in Cairo in 2016.

A post-mortem examination showed he had been tortured before his death.

Since President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi came to power in 2013 in a military coup, his government has been accused of overseeing the worst crackdown on human rights in the country's modern history. Thousands have been jailed, tortured and forcibly disappeared, while others have been forced to live in exile for fear of repression. 

Sisi justifies his crackdown as part of his government's "fight against terrorism", but many rights groups have documented its systematic use of counterterrorism laws to prosecute Sisi's peaceful critics. 

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