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Egypt urged to reveal whereabouts of missing deportees

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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi attends the opening session of the 30th Arab League summit in the Tunisian capital Tunis on March 31, 2019. FETHI BELAID / POOL / AFP

Human Rights Watch on Thursday urged Egyptian authorities to reveal the whereabouts of at least five Egyptians deported home from Malaysia and Turkey fearing they may face “torture and ill-treatment”.

“Since Egypt has a dire record of systematic torture, forcible disappearances, and unfair trials of dissidents, it is imperative for the authorities to provide full legal access to these deportees,” said Michael Page, HRW’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Malaysian authorities said they deported six Egyptians and one Tunisian in early March over their alleged plans to carry out terror attacks in other countries.

Ankara, which has strained relations with Cairo and is accused of being a haven for Egyptian Islamist exiles, has launched an investigation into the deportation of one man from Turkey to Egypt.

The man identified as Mohamed Abdelhafiz had been sentenced to death in absentia over the assassination of Egypt’s prosecutor general Hisham Barakat in a car bomb in 2015.

In a statement released on Thursday, HRW said it had established the identities of four prisoners deported from Malaysia to Egypt and one from Turkey. All of them had Islamist backgrounds.

The New York-based organisation said they were now “at serious risk of torture and ill-treatment in Egypt” and “could face severe torture and unfair trials”. No official response has been provided from Egyptian authorities regarding the deported men to date.

Following the military ouster of president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, authorities have cracked down on dissent, targeting thousands of Islamists as well as secular activists.

Egypt specifically outlawed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood deeming it a terror group in late 2013. Rights groups have consistently criticised Egypt’s ongoing crackdown but the government insists the measures are necessary to maintain stability and counter-terrorism.

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North Africa

Jailed Egyptian ex-president Morsi dies after court collapse

“He was speaking before the judge for 20 minutes then became very animated and fainted.” -Judicial source

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Jailed Egyptian ex-president Morsi dies after court collapsing
Ousted (now late) Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Ahmed Omar / Anadolu Agency

Former Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi died on Monday in a Cairo hospital after fainting during a session in court, judicial and security sources said.

“He was speaking before the judge for 20 minutes then became very animated and fainted. He was quickly rushed to the hospital where he later died,” a judicial source said.

The official Al-Ahram news website also reported the death of Morsi, who was Egypt’s first democratically elected president but spent just one turbulent year in office after the 2011 uprising before the army toppled him in July 2013.

While he was president, Morsi issued a temporary constitutional declaration that granted him unlimited powers and the power to legislate without judicial oversight or review of his acts as a pre-emptive move against the expected dissolution of the second constituent assembly by the Mubarak-era judges.

The new constitution that was then hastily finalised by the Islamist-dominated constitutional assembly, presented to the president, and scheduled for a referendum, before the Supreme Constitutional Court could rule on the constitutionality of the assembly, was described by independent press agencies not aligned with the regime as an “Islamist coup”.

This led to an uproar that contributed to his government being ousted by Abdelfatah Al-Sisi, the incumbent president.

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Key Bouteflika ally, Ali Haddad jailed for six months in Algeria

Haddad, who owns Algeria’s largest private construction company, is the first high-profile figure with ties to Bouteflika to be jailed

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Ali Haddad, pro-Bouteflika businessman and main funders of Bouteflika's electoral campaigns is seen in a car after arrested

A key backer of Algeria’s former leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika and one of the country’s top businessmen, Ali Haddad, was jailed for six months Monday for holding two passports, state television reported. Haddad was arrested in late March on the border with Tunisia, in possession of two passports and undeclared currency, days before Bouteflika resigned in the face of mass protests.

Haddad, who owns Algeria’s largest private construction company, is the first high-profile figure with ties to Bouteflika to be jailed since the president stepped down. He was found guilty of the “unjustified procurement of administrative documents” and also fined 50,000 dinars, state television reported.

Described by Forbes as one of Algeria’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, Haddad is widely perceived to have used his links to Bouteflika to build his business empire. The businessman had denied breaking the law and said he obtained his second passport legally after seeking an interview with the then prime minister Abdelmalek Sellal.

The ex-premier and Haddad are among many businessmen and former politicians caught up in a separate anti-corruption investigation launched since the president stepped down. Earlier this month Haddad’s lawyer, Khaled Bourayou, decried a “political trial” and told journalists the passport case had no legal basis.

The sentence is significantly lower than the 18 months term and a fine of 100,000 dinars requested by the prosecutor. Hassane Boualem, then director of titles and secure documents at the interior ministry, was given a two-month suspended sentence and fined 20,000 for issuing Haddad’s second passport in 2016.

He told the court he was following the orders of his superiors – interior ministry head Hocine Mazouz, Sellal and Algeria’s current premier Noureddine Bedoui – who were not investigated over the affair.

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North Africa

UNSMIL welcomes Al-Sarraj’s initiative to end conflict in Tripoli

UNSMIL also said it “offers its good offices to assist the country to emerge from its long state of transition towards a period of peace, stability and prosperity.”

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Fighters loyal to the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) open fire from their position

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has welcomed the initiative launched by Head of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez Al-Sarraj, to end the conflict which has lasted for two months in Tripoli.

In a statement released on Sunday the Mission said “UNSMIL welcomes the initiative, and any other initiative proposed by any of Libya’s major actors.”

UNSMIL also said it “offers its good offices to assist the country to emerge from its long state of transition towards a period of peace, stability and prosperity.”

On Sunday, Al-Sarraj unveiled a seven-point initiative “to resolve the Libyan crisis” during a speech in which he discussed the developments in the country considering what he called “the attack on Tripoli.”

He said the initiative includes “holding a Libyan national conference, in coordination with the UN mission in Libya, that gathers all the national powers and the people’s representatives from all parts of country.”

According to Al-Sarraj, part of what would be agreed upon during the conference includes a road map for the upcoming stage and the establishment of a constitutional base to hold the elections.

“The conference will also call upon the UN Security Council and the international community to support its outcomes,” Al-Sarraj added.

There have been clashes in Tripoli between the Libyan National Army (LNA) and militias of GNA after LNA launched a military operation in the capital on April 4. LNA’s operation aims to eliminate militias and terrorist groups that dominated the capital since 2011.

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