Human rights activists strongly condemned an interior ministry report that accused 17 men, allegedly belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, for the excessive rain floods.
The Arab-African Centre for human rights, the 6 April Movement and individual bloggers said the defendants had already been arrested two weeks prior to the floods that took over Alexandria.
Acting Alexandria governor Souad Al-Khouly had revealed in a press conference last Monday the reason behind the excessive floods in Alexandria.
“Building materials were put along the corniche 20 years ago to expand it. Seven concrete blocks in particular were used as barriers to waves, but have hindered the drainage of rainwater,” she said.
The Interior Ministry nonetheless published a six-minute video of three men “confessing” to throwing cement mixtures into the drainage systems and damaging them. One of them described how they allegedly performed the operation. The men also “confessed” to belonging to specialised committees of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
In a statement on their official page, the independent observatory AACHR said: “Ten of the defendants were arrested during a fight between two families in the Al-Agamy district of Alexandria and others were arrested from different areas on 17 October. Their detention location was not revealed until 24 October, therefore this is considered another case of forced disappearance.”
When they were referred to the prosecution on 24 October without defence lawyers, they were given another 15 days of detention; however, the prosecution did not charge them with any crimes related to blocking drainages.
In the Interior Ministry video, a man named Omar Khedr confessed to attempts to block the drainage. According to a statement by the 6 April Youth Movement, Khedr had disappeared in October.
Hafez Abo Saada, director of the National Council of Human Rights (NHCR), previously told Daily News Egypt: “It is very important to disclose information about the detainees in order to acquire their rights in defence and to communicate with their families. But when their locations are unknown it raises doubts about the conditions they are put through.”
The 17 defendants, dubbed as “sewage cell” members, are not the first to be forcibly disappeared by the police, re-appearing in videos by the Interior Ministry confessing to crimes.
In July, an 11-minute video published by Defence Ministry showed individuals claiming they were trained abroad on Muslim Brotherhood instructions. They also claimed they attacked state facilities, including police cars and electricity pylons in Egypt. One of the defendants in the video had disappeared two weeks earlier.
A week-long campaign by eight local human rights groups was launched last Tuesday to document the stories of those who were forcibly disappeared. The campaign documented 1,250 forced disappearances since the beginning of 2015.