Man beaten by Egypt police shown on TV blaming protesters
Egyptian anti-government protester gets ready to throw a molotov cocktail into the Presidential Palace compound during a demonstration on February 2, 2013 in Cairo. AFP PHOTO/GIANLUIGI GUERCIAA man who was beaten and dragged across the ground naked by Egyptian riot police during a demonstration on Friday was shown on state television blaming the incident on demonstrators, Reuters has reported.
A video of Hamada Saber, 48, being beaten with truncheons by helmeted police has infuriated the opposition, which accuses President Mohamed Mursi of ordering a harsh crackdown on protests two years after the uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
Mursi's government has announced an investigation into the incident, which came at the end of eight days of violent protests that saw nearly 60 people killed, the deadliest unrest of his seven months in office.
It was not clear how his account could be reconciled with the widely seen footage, which clearly showed police beating him with truncheons and dragging him naked across a road.
Saber said he had seen a crowd running and then felt himself shot in the leg.
"I fell over, I failed to stand up again, then they surrounded me in a circle and attacked me," he said. The interviewer asked if he was referring to the demonstrators, and he answered: "Yes I am. They took my clothes off, maybe they were looking for money in my pockets. Then someone among them shouted: 'He is not a soldier. He is not a soldier, he is an old man and you are going to kill him.'
"The soldiers ran towards me. I was afraid of them, but they were saying, 'We will not beat you'. I swear to God this is what happened. I kept on running. They said again: 'Do not be afraid.' I kept running away and they said, 'We are exhausted because of you'."
Egypt's prosecutors' office has released a statement saying Saber denied that police had hit him. That statement was received angrily by the opposition which suspects the authorities of intimidating him to exonerate the police.
"That a citizen be dragged in a public space is a crime against humanity. That he be forced to amend his testimony before the Public Prosecution is tyranny. It has dire consequences for justice," Nasser Amin, a prominent lawyer and campaigner for judicial independence said on Twitter.
Sporadic clashes outside Egypt presidential palace
Sporadic clashes broke out overnight between protesters demanding the ouster of Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and security forces outside the presidential palace, witnesses said on Sunday, AFP has reported.
There were no immediate reports of casualties from the confrontations which follow violent clashes on Friday outside the presidential palace that left one person dead.
Late on Saturday several hundred mostly young protesters again gathered outside the compound and threw stones and petrol bombs at its walls, an AFP correspondent said.
One protester said they were there to pay homage to the young man killed on Friday, and they chanted "Leave!" and "The people want the regime to fall!" -- slogans used two years earlier to oust veteran president Hosni Mubarak.
In Friday's clashes, a 23-year-old was shot dead and 91 people were injured, a medic said, and the interior ministry said 15 of its men were wounded by birdshot.
Security forces deployed outside the palace grounds fired tear gas late on Saturday when a group of protesters tried to storm one of the gates, the witnesses said, but republican guards inside the compound did not intervene.
"We no longer respond to provocation from certain protesters outside the palace," the commander of the guards, General Mohammed Ahmad Zaki, was quoted as saying by the state-run MENA news agency.
The main opposition National Salvation Front (NSF), meanwhile, called for the resignation of Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim after a video showing a naked man being beaten by police went viral on the Internet.
The beating was "an inhumane spectacle... no less ugly than the killings of martyrs, which is considered a continuation of the security force's programme of excessive force," the opposition bloc said.
Ibrahim has ordered a probe to "hold accountable" those responsible and will resign if "that's what the people want," his office said.
The presidency also scrambled to contain fallout from the footage.
A statement said the presidency was "pained by the shocking footage of some policemen treating a protester in a manner that does not accord with human dignity and human rights" but described the incident as an "isolated act." Prosecutors say Hamed Saber, a 50-year-old construction painter, was found carrying petrol bombs.
Saber said on television that he had been set upon and stripped by protesters and that the police had saved him, but his daughter Randa disputed the account and said on television: "He's lying; he's scared." A nephew of Saber added: "He is lying because there is a lot of pressure on him."