CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's former top auditor on Saturday suffered serious injuries to his face and leg during an apparent kidnapping attempt that turned into a brawl outside his suburban Cairo home, his defense lawyers told The Associated Press.
Lawyers Ali Taha and Tareq el-Awady said three men armed with knives jumped out of two cars that blocked the path of Hesham Genena's car. They pulled him out of his car and tried to force him into one of their cars when passers-by rushed to his recue and a brawl ensued, they said.
The passers-by apprehended the three attackers, but the drivers of the two cars were able to get away before police arrived at the scene.
The lawyers said Genena's injuries were "serious but not life-threatening." He remains under observation in hospital where he is guarded by police since one of the three attackers filed a counter-complaint accusing him of assault.
Both lawyers said they suspected the attackers to be repeat criminals retained by the police as thugs, something that rights activists in Egypt claim to be a common practice.
Security officials earlier said that the brawl followed a car collision involving Genena. The two accounts could not be immediately reconciled.
The 63-year-old Genena was earlier this month named as one of two top aides to would-be presidential candidate Sami Annan, a former military chief of staff. Annan was arrested Tuesday by the military, which accused him of forgery and inciting against the military. He has not been seen publicly since his arrest.
Images circulating on social media purportedly show Genena's left eye swollen shut and his left leg wrapped in blood-soaked bandages around the knee.
"The knee is a real problem and the eye is still bleeding," said el-Awady.
Genena, also a former judge and police officer, was on his way to a court hearing for his appeal against his 2016 removal by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi from his job as head of the Central Auditing Organization.
In 2015, Genena said corruption was costing the country billions of dollars. A pro-government daily quoted him as saying that Egypt wasted 600 billion pounds or ($67.6 billion) in corruption in 2015 alone. He later said he was misquoted and that his remarks referred to the last four-year period.
El-Sissi dismissed Genena in March 2016, following an investigation that hurriedly concluded the auditor had misled the public on the issue of corruption. The removal capped a series of measures critics say were aimed at sacking the chief auditor after speaking up against corruption.
Pro-government media has linked Genena to the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group that was outlawed and declared a terrorist organization shortly after el-Sissi led the military's 2013 ouster of Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected leader.
Morsi, a Brotherhood stalwart, named Genena to his post during his one year in office, which proved divisive.
Annan's would-be candidacy in the March 26-28 was widely expected to attract the support of Brotherhood supporters, a prospect that critics of the ex-army general pointed to as evidence of his links to the group. Under el-Sissi's rule even suspected links to the Brotherhood can be a criminal offence.