Egypt’s Doctors’ Syndicate is set to hold an emergency meeting on Saturday after a doctor accused policemen of assaulting him during his work hours inside a hospital, the syndicate said on Friday.
Syndicate Chairman Hussein Khairy called on board members to meet because of the “latest assault by policemen on doctors in the Matariya Teaching Hospital in Cairo,” the syndicate said in a short statement posted on its website.
A video published on Thursday by Egyptian news portal Mobtada features a doctor detailing the purported assault against him by low-ranking policemen as he attempted to provide one of them with healthcare.
The video, which has been picking up traffic, features doctor Ahmed Abdallah speaking to a camera and describing what happened while he was working in the early hours of Thursday.
He said an injured man, accompanied by another man, came to the hospital. Abdallah examined the injury which turned out to be a “superficial” wound in the man’s forehead. Abdallah was accompanied by two other medical care providers.
“We told him it was superficial… and may not even need stitches,” Abdallah said, but that was when trouble started. The injured man perceived the medical opinion as belittling of his injury, according to Abdallah.
“He started insulting and cursing,” the doctor said. When the injured man started yelling, the accompanying man walked in and “started beating” and hurling more insults.
Abdallah said this type of behaviour was common in Matariya and until that point, he had not yet realised that both the patient and the accompanying man were low-ranking policemen.
It was when Abdallah told the receptionist to call the police station, that he knew that these were policemen after one of them responded, “we are the police station.”
A doctor from the administration was brought in to try and calm down the policemen, Abdallah said, but instead they “detained” Abdallah in the reception room and said they would take him to the police station. At one point when tension escalated, a policeman held out his gun at the other doctor.
Abdallah said several other low-ranking policemen, which he estimated to be around “eight or nine,” arrived at the scene and held both Abdallah and the other doctor.
They told Abdallah to enter a vehicle. He refused, saying that he cannot leave “his place of work” but the policemen gathered around him, according to his account.
“I was dragged… and handcuffed,” he said.
Abdallah was thrown inside the vehicle and taken to a police station, where he and his senior waited until eventually a police officer brought them back to the hospital. They wrote a complaint and reports detailing what happened to them, he said.
Abdallah repeated that there are witnesses who can attest to what happened to him, saying this all took place in the reception area of the hospital.
The Matariya prosecution ordered the release of the policemen after they reconciled with the two doctors but Doctors’ Syndicate Deputy Mona Mina said the doctors waived the complaint after they were subjected to “severe pressures” inside the Matariya police station.
She added in a comment to Aswat Masriya that they were threatened that they would be detained pending an investigation into “assaulting policemen,” even though a syndicate lawyer was present with them at the time.
Egypt’s interior ministry has not issued an official statement in response to the video but a police source told Aswat Masriya that the reconciliation came at the will of both parties, adding that there were no “pressures or threats.”
The policemen involved in the incident were suspended and are facing an internal investigation, even though they were released by prosecutors, the source said. He added that the ministry will not cover up any violations made by members of the police force.
According to Mina, the syndicate will look into incident and potential ways in which it can be escalated, even after the doctors waived the complaint.
Police brutality was one of the triggers of the 2011 Uprising, sparked by protests on Egypt’s national police day, aimed to draw attention to the police’s use of excessive, at times fatal, force.
The fifth anniversary of the uprising was commemorated last Monday, featuring empty squares and little effort to organise protests or demonstrations.