Sunday’s papers: Quest for justice in Saeed and Bedouin cases

The case of the slain Alexandrian Khaled Saeed is still making headlines in both privately-owned and government papers, three weeks after his death.

The news is that the two policemen accused of beating Saeed to death have been referred to a criminal court. State-owned Al-Ahram carries it as the second top story. The paper reports that the policemen were accused of unlawfully arresting Saeed, using force and beating him brutally. It reiterates that they are not accused of beating Saeed to death or having had any prior intention to kill him, as per evidence presented by the Forensic Authorities. State-owned Al-Akhbar adds that the public prosecutor in the case stated that the accused policemen arrested Saeed in light of a previous sentence he was given in absentia. Both papers retell the public prosecutor’s narrative; namely that the two policemen were trying to arrest Saeed as he was walking with a pack of hash. When he tried to escape into a cybercafé, they followed him and beat him up inside. When they tried to take the pack from him, he swallowed it, which caused him to choke and die.

Privately-owned Al-Shorouk skips the details of the public prosecutor’s statement and focuses on human rights organizations’ objection to the fact that the policemen are not accused of killing Saeed. The paper has an interview with lawyer Mohamed Abdel Aziz from El-Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of the Victims of Torture, who said the center is presenting an official request to bring to court other senior policemen. Abdel Aziz also said they will demand the presentation of other forensic expert reports to respond to the official narrative given by the forensic authorities. Privately-owned Al-Dostour adds to its coverage the fact that activists who have been advocating a fair investigation into Saeed’s death have pledged to continue their protests now that the policemen have been brought to court. Activists say their demands also include bringing to justice other security personnel who falsified facts in the case, including the forensic authorities’ report and Saeed’s criminal record.

Al-Akhbar and Al-Ahram meet again on their front page coverage of the Bedouin question in Sinai.  Al-Ahram runs a headline reading, “Comfort looms in Sinai. Six are released and the rest will follow in the coming days.” The paper reports that the people of Sinai are satisfied with the new decision and are grateful to the Ministry of Interior for taking such measures. The authorities also pledged to relax inspection measures at checkpoints, which have increasingly angered Sinai’s Bedouins. Similarly, Al-Akhbar reports about “the calm” that spread in north Sinai following the release of the detainees. The paper adds that authorities within the ruling National Democratic Party are liaising closely with Bedouin community leaders to ensure their demands are met.

In its coverage of the same issue, Al-Shorouk leads with the headline “Cautious calm in Sinai”. The paper reports that Bedouin tribesmen were told that the current measures taken in response to the recent unrest was ordered by the President Hosni Mubarak. Al-Dostour, however, runs a less positive headline indicating that wanted Bedouin tribesmen refused to meet with political mediators from the People’s Assembly as they learnt that the government has no intention to let go of them. The paper interviews Moussa el-Dalah, a tribesman from the north Sinai who has been wanted by security. El-Dalah told Al-Dostour that he refused to meet with members of parliament because he knows that they are guided by the security.

In an exclusive interview, Al-Shorouk talks with US Ambassador to Cairo Margaret Scobey who reflects on the above issues and others. On Saeed’s death, Scobey told Al-Shorouk that her government has expressed concern over the “worrying” death of Saeed and has received pledges for a fair investigation. “But we haven’t seen the results of those investigations yet.” Scobey also responded to issues pertaining to the Copts of Egypt, expressing concerns about sectarian strife in the country. On her visit to National Association for Change leader Mohamed ElBaradei, a rising voice among Egypt’s political opposition, Scobey said that her government doesn’t support any particular figure, but supports “ideas and an environment conducive to their free expression.”

Egypt’s newspapers:

Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt

Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size

Al-Gomhorriya: Daily, state-run

Rose el-Youssef: Daily, state-run, close to the National Democratic Party’s Policies Secretariat

Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned

Al-Shorouq:Daily, privately owned

Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party

Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Arab Nasserist party

Youm7: Weekly, privately owned

Sawt el-Umma: Weekly, privately owned  

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