The World Medical Association has protested in the strongest possible terms to the Egyptian authorities over the imprisonment and reported torture of an Egyptian surgeon on charges relating to protests that took place four years ago.
WMA President Sir Michael Marmot has written to the Egyptian Minister of Justice calling for the immediate release of Dr. Ahmed Said, a vascular surgeon, who lives in Germany. Dr. Said, with four others, was imprisoned for two years for protesting in central Cairo in commemoration of those killed by the security forces in November 2011.
Sir Michael writes that the five defendants were put on trial last month on charges that included “assembling without a permit” and “blocking the road and disrupting traffic”.
In his letter, he writes: ‘Defence lawyers said that the Public Prosecution had not produced any physical evidence, such as photographs or videos, to substantiate the charges, and that their case was based on a report by a single National Security officer, which claimed the group had taken part in a protest in central Cairo that blocked traffic and threatened the security of citizens. A report by the Ministry of Traffic indicates that no complaints were received about protests or disruption to traffic in the area where the protest had supposedly taken place.’
Sir Michael adds: ‘The World Medical Association would like to recall that the freedom of expression is a fundamental human right. Egypt ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1982, hereby establishing its consent to be bound by the provisions of the Covenant. We would like to emphasize in particular the Article 19 (2) of the Covenant providing that “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice”.
‘Furthermore, according to our sources, Dr. Ahmed Said was tortured on the day of his arrest while interrogating him at Abdeen Police Stati Prison complex, just south of Cairo. He is in an overcrowded cell and sleeps on a concrete floor without a blanket or warm clothing during what is the coldest time of the year in Egypt.
‘We are calling on the Egyptian authorities to ensure that Surgeon Ahmed Said and the four other activists (Mostafa Ibrahim Mohamed Ahmed, Karim Khaled Fathy, Mohamed Abdel-Hamid, and Gamila Seryel-Dain) are protected from torture and other ill-treatment and have regular access to their lawyers and families, and more generally that they are treated with the respect due to their inherent dignity and value as human beings, as stated in international principles for the treatment of prisoners.
‘We also urge you to ensure that the verdict and sentences handed down to these five people are quashed, and that they are released immediately.’
Sir Michael’s letter ends by calling on the Egyptian authorities to order a prompt, independent and impartial investigation into the allegations of torture and to ensure those responsible are brought to justice in a fair trial without resort to the death penalty.