Student forcibly disappeared for 81 days questioned, accused of belonging to banned group

Forcibly disappeared journalism student Ibrahim Ragab, who has been missing for 81 days, was questioned by Zagazig prosecution on Saturday without the presence of a lawyer. Ragab has been detained for a period of 15 days pending investigations, according to his fiance Asmaa Hamdy.

“Ibrahim is in a bad state of health, he can barely stand” said Hamdy, who saw Ibrahim for a brief period in the Zagazig police station where he was held. She added that he said he was tortured and that she saw “scratches” on his face.

Hamdy told Mada Masr that the charges leveled against Ibrahim are unclear. “All we know is that it’s a ‘membership case,’ she said. He is accused of accused of belonging to a banned group, according to lawyer Abdel Aziz Youssef, who is following the disappearance case. He added that Ibrahim’s lawyers will find out if other charges exist when they gain access to the case file following prosecution date in 15 days.

Hamdy told Mada Masr “Ibrahim said being forcibly disappeared is the worst thing that could happen. He was handcuffed for the entire 81-day period and hardly ate, due to the food being virtually rotten.”

Hamdy also relayed that when Ibrahim threatened to hunger strike in protest of the conditions he, in turn, was threatened with “being bound by his hands and feet and killed.”

The 23-year-old student was forcibly disappeared alongside his friend Samir al-Yamany, 24 years old, while on their way to visit Hamdy’s family on December 21. Yamany was found last Thursday when he appeared before Gabal al-Ahmar military prosecution in Cairo.

Ibrahim’s disappearance occurred one week before Hamdy was released from prison, where she spent three years on charges of belonging to a banned organization, violence and taking part in illegal protests. She was one of a number of students arrested  at Al-Azhar University following the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.  She was acquitted in December 2016, and subsequently released after serving part of her five year sentence.

Over the past few years Egyptian authorities have been repeatedly accused of regularly carrying out forced disappearances. The state’s National Council for Human Rights issued a list in 2016 containing the names of forcibly disappeared persons whose whereabouts were revealed by the Interior Ministry after complaints about their disappearance were filed.

However, cases of forced disappearance have continued targeting, among others, lawyers working on forced disappearance cases.

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