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Rights group urges Egypt to investigate death of man allegedly tortured in police custody

Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] called Tuesday for Egyptian authorities to promptly and thoroughly investigate [press release] the death of 19-year-old Ahmed Shaaban who was allegedly tortured in police custody. Shaaban went missing from his hometown in Alexandria, Egypt, on November 7 and was found dead in a canal near where he lives on November 11. According to Ahmed Shaaban's family, his body was covered in bruises. They accuse police officers from Sidi Gaber police station of torturing and killing Shaaban. According to AI, the family received an anonymous phone call one day after Shaaban went missing saying they he was in custody at Sidi Gaber and being subjected to torture. "These disturbing allegations of enforced disappearance and death in custody, and possibly unlawful killing by police, must be immediately and fully investigated by an independent body," said Malcolm Smart, AI's director for the Middle East and North Africa. Egypt's Ministry of Interior denies [AP report] the Shaaban family's accusations and says they have no record of Shaaban being arrested. However, reports have surfaced that Shaaban and his friend Ahmed Farraq Labib were accused of stealing a mobile phone [EGY News report, in Arabic] on the day that Shaaban went missing. Labib is currently in police custody at Sidi Gaber.

Sidi Gaber police officers are also currently under investigation for another incident in which a man was dragged out of a cafe and publicly beat to death [HRW report]. According to the US State Department's Human Rights Report for Egypt, in 2009, there were 30 reported instances of torture in police custody [report]. Egypt investigated some of these, and, in several of the cases, punished the responsible officers and made them pay compensation to the victims. In 2008, Egypt suspended 280 police officers [JURIST report] alleged to have abused their power and committed human rights violations.

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