Human rights activists accuse Morsi supporters of beating, detaining opponents
At least 49 men were beaten and detained for up to 17 hours allegedly by supporters of President Mohamed Morsi during deadly clashes near the presidential palace in Cairo on December 5, human rights activists have said.
Despite allegations that these were paid thugs, the local prosecutor later released the 49 for lack of incriminating evidence.
According to CNN, while the men were still being questioned, Morsi in a televised speech said that those arrested had confessed to being paid by 'political powers' to instigate violence.
"The basic message that I wanted to hear from the president... is that torture, abuse, illegal detention is never justified," Heba Morayef, research and Egypt director at Human Rights Watch, said.
The organization said in a statement that the president spoke against the victims instead of condemning their unlawful detention, the report said.
Videos posted online showed men with bloodied and bruised faces held outside the gate of the presidential palace and told to confess to being paid, the report added.
According to the report, Gehad El-Haddad, senior advisor to the Muslim Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party, described the president's supporters as the 'defending group' who first handed 'attacking thugs' they caught to the police.
One of those arrested was former diplomat Yahya Najm, who said he was beaten and refused medical treatment.
His hands were tied and he was held outside the presidential gate until the next day. Ten days after his release, he was still sporting two black eyes.
"They were putting their shoes on my face, kicking me. They were standing on my face and chest," he said, adding: "I was bleeding everywhere without any medical care all night."