Published on May 31, 2015 11:14 AM EDT
CAIRO (AP) — At least 2,600 people, nearly half of them supporters of the nation’s ousted president, were killed in violence over an 18-month period starting June 30, 2013, the head of Egypt’s state human rights agency announced on Sunday.
Mohammed Fayeq, head of the National Council for Human Rights, told reporters that 700 policemen and 550 civilians were also killed in the period between June 30, 2013 and Dec. 31, 2014.
On July 3, 2013 the military ousted Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president. Authorities launched an ongoing crackdown on members of Morsi’s now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
At least 600 Morsi supporters were killed on a single day when security forces broke up two Cairo-based sit-in protests on Aug. 14, 2013. Almost the entire leadership of the Brotherhood and thousands of the group’s members have been detained, along with hundreds of secular and leftist pro-democracy campaigners who were behind the 2011 uprising that toppled Morsi’s predecessor, autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
Fayeq criticized authorities for the practice of detaining suspects for an extended period pending the filing of formal charges and trial, saying it amounted to “punishment for crimes not committed.”
Holding cells at police stations, he said, were filled 400 percent above their capacity and 160 percent in prisons.
Fayeq said that while the Interior Ministry, which controls the country’s police, announced the death of 36 people while in detention, various human rights groups put the figure at between 80 and 98.
“The phenomenon of death in detention had disappeared after the 2011 uprising, but has since made a comeback. There is no proof that they died as a result of torture, but there is also nothing to prove otherwise,” he said.
Another human rights group, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, issued a critical report on Sunday dealing with the issue of lengthy detention of suspects. It said authorities were selectively using this tactic, almost exclusively targeting activists. Meanwhile, police officers accused of killing protesters and prominent Mubarak-era figures have been mostly spared such lengthy detentions, although they were in position to leave the country, intimidate witnesses or tamper with evidence.
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