Omar Mohammed Ali and his two friends were abducted from the street in Egypt last year. He was tortured to make a video “confession” and now faces a lifetime in jail. As his family appeals, he tells Amnesty International how military intelligence officers pushed him to the edge.
The minute I entered the military intelligence building, the officers gathered around me and started beating me. They handcuffed me from behind until I heard the dawn prayer and it was the dawn of Wednesday. The officer in charge kept asking about my personal life from the moment I was born. I was beaten again and then he told me: “I will leave you now and get back to you in the morning”.
I sat there till the afternoon until someone else called for me. Another officer started beating me with a thick stick, put it on my genitals and hit me on the head. He also hit me with his legs and hands, and with a thin cable. He started beating me more when he knew that my dad died in Rabaa, and he asked other lower ranked officers in the room to undress me. They took off all of my clothes including my underwear.
They made me sit on a chair, tied my hands behind my back, and hung them to an iron bar. Then they removed the chair which made my whole body hang in the air. He beat me with a stick and a cable while I was in this position. They also made me stand on the chair and then they removed it suddenly.
After that they gave electric shocks to my genitals. They hit me on my back with a burning piece of cloth, which caused me burns, and then they kept giving me electric shocks. I started screaming more and the officer told them: “This is good, this is what we want, now put him down”. They put me down on the floor in the shape of a cross. They started sitting on my hands and legs and continued with the electric shocks on my genitals for about an hour.
After this, the officer told his subordinates: “Let him get dressed”. I could not move my arm at all so they dressed me and took me to a room. A guy started hitting me with a cable on my head and abdomen. I stayed like that in the room and every now and then someone would enter to beat me. This continued until the dawn prayer. Then they let me sleep until the next day.
On the Thursday, they brought me a piece of cheese and a loaf of bread, and I was left handcuffed and blindfolded until the following Tuesday. On that day, they put me in a microbus and drove me for two minutes to a building where I was handed two papers to memorise. I was told to stand in front of the camera and say what was written as my “confession”. I shot the video and went back to my cell and stayed inside until Friday.
Omar’s video “confession” was used as evidence against him during his subsequent trial, despite the military prosecutor and an intelligence officer telling him they knew he was innocent – one had even said: “I know you are falsely accused”. In May this year, he was sentenced to life imprisonment alongside 12 others, and eight more were sentenced to death. The sentences followed a grossly unfair trial at an Egyptian military court and relied on further “confessions” extracted under torture. Amnesty is calling for a fair retrial of all those convicted, and for all allegations of torture to be independently investigated.