Anwar Ramadan Abd El-Latif, a resident of the Ramlet Boulaq area, was released on Sunday from police custody less than two hours after his dramatic arrest.
Abd El-Latif was arrested shortly after the Ramlet Boulaq Popular Committee held a press conference detailing the hassle they face from the police and the owners of the Nile City Towers in the form of recent regular arbitrary arrests and ongoing attempts of forced eviction, in addition to a lack of drinking water and sanitation utilities and poor infrastructure that has always plagued the area.
“Right after the press conference the government [police] came over and told Anwar he has to come with them to the Boulaq police station,” Abd El-Latif’s wife told the Daily News Egypt.
“I stood in front of him and the officer told me to ‘step aside woman or I’ll shoot you’ and I told him to shoot,” she added.
According to Abd El-Latif’s wife the officer calmed down a little and became more polite when he noticed he was surrounded by journalists and cameras from the conference earlier, although the change was short-lived.
“The journalists and lawyers told Anwar to get down from the back of the police truck and tried to help him down but the officer threatened to shoot anyone doing so,” she said.
Several witnesses at the scene verified that the journalists and lawyers asked the officer for an arrest warrant and that he failed to produce one, claiming it was back at the police station.
Abd El-Latif was released less than two hours after his arrest. He was followed to the police station by Mohamed Adel, a lawyer from the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights, Hamad Araby El-Sayed from the Ramlet Boulaq Popular Committee, as well as two members from the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, who helped secure his release.
“They took me to the station and looked for me in the footage of 2 August they have on a CD and checked my name in their books. They let me go when they didn’t find me,” Abd El-Latif told the Daily News Egypt.
Abd El-Latif was shot in the leg on 2 August by a tourism police officer stationed in the Nile City Towers as he attempted to carry the body of Amr El-Bunni, whom the same officer had shot dead earlier. Abd El-Latif’s son Ahmed attempted to help his father up and was shot by another officer, also in the leg.
El-Bunni got into an argument with the officer after he had entered the towers to collect wages the Nile City management owed him for protecting the towers while the police were absent.
Residents of Ramlet Boulaq were outraged at El-Bunni’s killing and some of them attacked the towers. About 20 cars and 10 motorcycles were burned and the building’s glass entrances were shattered. Police responded by holding regular crackdowns on the area ever since and arbitrarily arresting male residents without proof of their participation in the day’s events.
When asked why he in particular was arrested, Abd El-Latif said it was because there was a lot of talk about him and his son recently in the media. Abd El-Latif was shot right before the clashes between police and the residents started and as such could not have participated in the violence.
He was let go but was told that his teenage son Ahmed was wanted and should turn himself in. Ahmed did not participate in the violence either as he was also shot fairly early as he attempted to help his father. Both father and son now walk on crutches.
When asked why Abd El-Latif was wanted, ECESR lawyer Mohamed Adel told the Daily News Egypt there was no particular reason or logic behind that.
“This is a campaign of random and arbitrary arrest, there is no logic behind who they want.”
Daily News Egypt has published an earlier investigation on the Nile City 2 August clashes and the land disputes in Ramlet Boulaq. Click here for more background information on this story.