Egypt tortures Regeni lawyer investigating enforced disappearances

Molly Moss 22 September 2017

Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy, a prominent lawyer investigating the murder of Cambridge student Giulio Regeni, has said that he was subjected to brutal torture and solitary confinement after being arrested last week.

Mr Metwally, 53, vanished at Cairo International Airport on the 12th September as he prepared to fly to Geneva to address a UN meeting.

The human rights lawyer had been due to speak about the case of Giulio Regeni, the 28-year-old Cambridge Phd student murdered in Egypt last year, and other enforced disappearances, but was instead held in detention in Cairo on charges of “communicating with foreign entities to harm state security.”

Appearing before the prosecutor, Mr Metwally was charged with “managing an illegal group, spreading false news … [and] cooperating with foreign organisations", which can carry a Prison sentence of up to five years.

According to Mr Metwally's human rights Law Firm, the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, the lawyer spoke at a hearing yesterday to extend his detention by 15 days.

The head of ECRF, Mohammed Lofty, told The Times: “He told our lawyers that he was subjected to torture when he was in state security during his disappearance. They stripped off all his clothes and electrocuted him.

“He is being held in solitary confinement in a dark room without electricity and with water on the floor that is full of garbage.”

After yesterday’s hearing, the offices of ECRF were raided by Egyptian security guards in an attempt to shut down ECRF, My Lofty added. The authorities accused the firm of acting politically and in breach of its founding contract, and have repeatedly threatened to close it down. 

The authorities maintain that their prisons meet international standards, and have repeatedly denied the use of security force violence against detainees.

Mr Metwally, whose own son disappeared four years ago while working for the the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, has become one of the leading lawyers and rights activists investigating enforced disappearances. In 2014 he formed the Association of the Families of the Disappeared in Egypt, through which he continues to represent the relatives of people forcibly disappeared in Egypt.