Egypt prosecutor issues gag order on media to halt police killing coverage
A senior prosecutor in Egypt has enforced a gag order on the nation’s media to obstruct press coverage of a case involving the recent killing of a female protester by security forces during a peaceful rally in the capital, Cairo.
The Thursday measure came as local rights groups and political blocs have accused the police forces of murdering 32-year-old Shaimaa el-Sabbagh, insisting that a widely-circulated video proves their case.
The footage shows two masked black-clad police officers turning their guns toward the victim and shooting her after a voice commanded them to “fire.”
Sabbagh was reported killed on January 24, on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the Egyptian revolution against the long-time US-backed dictator, Hosni Mubarak, which led to his ouster.
A number of rights groups have long raised concern that Egyptian police authorities are almost never prosecuted by the military-backed government, promoting a culture of impunity for the country’s security forces.
More than 100 Egyptian police officers were acquitted in trials over the killing of protesters during the 2011 popular uprising against Mubarak.
Since then, no security officer or police authority has been charged over the killings, despite a much wider and more abusive crackdown on opposition supporters.
The Thursday statement issued by office of the country’s prosecutor general further stated that the gag order will remain in effect until an investigation into the case is completed.
The statement also emphasized that “inaccurate and contradictory” media reports regarding the official probe into Sabbagh’s killing could “negatively impact” the investigation.
Egyptian security forces have sought to distance themselves from the alleged murder case, which revived persisting charges that they routinely resort to abusive and lethal force.