Egypt army 'tortured' protesters: reports
The Egyptian military has secretly detained hundreds of anti-government protesters, some of whom have been tortured, human rights groups and demonstrators claimed Wednesday.
Testimonies collected by Britain's Guardian newspaper accused the army, which claims have remained neutral during the 16 days of protests, of conducting disappearances and torture, including the use of electric shocks.
Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights in Cairo, told the newspaper whom he believed was being detained.
"Their range is very wide, from people who were at the protests or detained for breaking curfew to those who talked back at an army officer or were handed over to the army for looking suspicious or for looking like foreigners," Bahgat said.
"It's unusual and to the best of our knowledge it's also unprecedented for the army to be doing this," he added.
One man claimed he was detained in the famous Museum of Egyptian Antiquities after being apprehended by the army while taking medical supplies to protesters injured by supporters of President Hosni Mubarak.
"I was on a sidestreet and a soldier stopped me and asked me where I was going," the man, known only as Ashraf, told the British publication.
"He accused me of working for foreign enemies and other soldiers rushed over and they all started hitting me with their guns," he recalled.
"They put me in a room...then soldiers started kicking me. They got a bayonet and threatened to rape me with it.
"They said I could die there or I could disappear into prison and no one would ever know," he added.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) received an account from a man who accused an interrogator of torturing him after the military detained him for carrying an anti-government flyer in his bag.
"They started beating me up in the street their rubber batons and an electric Taser gun, shocking me," the protester said. "Then they took me to Abdin police station.
"He (the interrogator) shocked me all over my body, leaving no place untouched. He tortured me twice like this on Friday, and one more time on Saturday," he added.
Heba Morayef, an HRW researcher in Cairo, feared that some detainees were not released so swiftly.
"A lot of families are calling us and saying 'I can't find my son, he's disappeared,'" Morayef told the left-wing paper. "I think what's happening is that they're being arrested by the military."
One man reported missing is Kareem Amer, an anti-Mubarak critic who recently served a four-year jail sentence for criticising the president. He was detained on Monday evening.
© 2011 AFP