Egypt Purges Mubarak-Era Police Officers
By David D. Kirkpatrick
The New York Times
July 13, 2011
CAIRO — Egypt’s transitional military government announced the early retirement of more than 600 senior police officers on Wednesday. It was an effort to mollify thousands of protesters at a six-day-old protest in Cairo’s Tahrir Square who have been demanding swifter justice for those complicit in wrongdoing under President Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted in February.
The Interior Ministry said 18 police generals and 9 other senior officers were forced into early retirement because they were accused of killing protesters during the 18-day uprising. For the same reason, 54 lower-ranking officers were shifted to jobs where they would no longer interact with civilians, officials said.
More than 800 people were killed in three weeks of nonviolent demonstrations this year.
In another concession to the protesters, the military government postponed parliamentary elections, which had been scheduled for September, until October or November, Egyptian news media reported. Many new political parties had sought a delay to prepare to compete against the Muslim Brotherhood and other well-organized Islamist organizations.
The Interior Ministry said no officers accused of killing protesters remained in their old posts, but it declined to give their names, and it provided no explanation for the forced early retirement of nearly 500 other police generals and about 150 other senior officers.
But Mansour el-Essawy, the interior minister appointed after Mr. Mubarak’s ouster, called the moves “the biggest shake-up in the history of the police,” citing public demands “to get rid of all of the leadership that is accused of killing protesters.” He said, without explanation, that 4,000 police officers were involved in the reorganization.
In Tahrir Square, where crowds have grown in size to rival the earlier demonstrations, protesters appeared to be unmoved. Human rights activists called the reorganization a modest first step toward a more thorough reform of the Interior Ministry, which is widely despised for its practices of extrajudicial torture and detention.
Ahmed Ragheb, a human rights advocate who runs the Hisham Mubarak Law Center and helps lead a police reform project, called on the ministry to explain publicly how it intended to prevent further abuses. “We want them to suspend all of the officers who were accused of any human rights violations,” he said, and he faulted the ministry for failing to identify the officers removed from their posts.
The latest protest in Tahrir Square was set off in part by outrage over recent abuses.
One involved the heavy use of tear gas and force against protesters who said they were relatives of those killed during the revolution in January and February and had been excluded from a commemorative event.
Heba Afify contributed reporting.