Egypt arrests 47 officers for destroying documents

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 18, 2011 4:36 PM
Egypt arrests 47 officers for destroying documents

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt has ordered the arrest of 47 state security officers accused of burning documents, in a bid to placate protesters who say information is being destroyed to cover up state abuses and violations.

The Prosecutor General's office will hold the officers and security personnel for 15 days pending an investigation, it said in a statement on Monday.

The state security service, a branch of the Interior Ministry, functioned as a domestic spying agency under Hosni Mubarak, and hatred of it helped to fuel the uprising that toppled him.

Its networks penetrated deep into society, monitoring citizens and tapping phone lines. Emergency laws give its officers wide powers to act against any political opposition. Human rights groups accuse it of using torture extensively.

In the last three days, protesters have broken into 11 offices belonging to the state security apparatus in Egypt, seizing documents that they feared would be destroyed by officers to cover up abuses.

Many of those documents have been leaked to the press and are circulating on social networking sites, prompting Egypt's interim military rules to issue warnings demanding that citizens return the documents so that legal procedures can be followed.

Several state security buildings on the outskirts of Cairo were set alight on Saturday and some witnesses said they had seen police burning documents in the building. Police said the property was set alight by citizens.

Men in plain clothes armed with swords and petrol bombs attacked protesters in Cairo on Sunday night during a demonstration demanding reform of the security services.

Egypt's armed forces say they are now guarding all state security buildings across Egypt.

(Reporting by Dina Zayed; Editing by Kevin Liffey)