Egypt apologizes for security police "violations": report

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 21, 2011 9:46 AM

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's interior minister said the state security apparatus will be restricted to combating terrorism and espionage and he apologized for past 'violations'. the official state news agency MENA reported Thursday.

Minister Mansour el-Essawy said the system could not be dissolved but it would play no further role in citizens' daily lives.

"(The minister) apologized to the Egyptian people for the violations that took place on the part of some elements of the police apparatus in the past," reported MENA. The apology will be issued in a statement by the ministry.

Egyptians say state security police, a branch of the police force, have treated citizens with a very heavy hand. Antagonism grew after police clashed with demonstrators during protests that led to the toppling of president Hosni Mubarak on February 11.

Activists broke into the agency's premises and posted documents and videos online which they said were proof of abuses carried out by state security police.

The posts include pictures of what was described as a torture chamber with a blood-stained floor and equipped with chains, and security files showing the extent of the agency's intrusion into citizens' lives.

The online material led many to call on the military council that took over from Mubarak to dissolve the security organ, which justified its brutality in light of the country's emergency law, in force since 1981.

The plan to restructure the security apparatus will be presented to the prime minister as soon as possible, MENA said.

Egypt's police forces have returned to work across the country, el-Essawi said, after they withdrew from the streets on January 28 fearing attacks by citizens.

El-Essawi said the country's regular police force totaled 269,000 and state security police did not exceed 170,000. He said these numbers would be reviewed to ensure they met actual requirements.

(Reporting by Sarah Mikhail; Writing by Shaimaa Fayed; editing by Robert Woodward)