MANHATTAN (CN) – Twenty-one Egyptians say they were arrested and tortured by secret police in Kuwait, at the behest of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. They seek more than $380 million in damages from the Kuwaiti government.
The men say they were arrested, brutally interrogated and eventually deported to Egypt due to their support for the Egyptian Association for Change, a pro-democracy organization with branches in Egypt, the United States and Kuwait.
After exhausting their legal remedies in Kuwait, without much success, the plaintiffs have sued the Emir of Kuwait, the Head of the Royal Council, the Kuwaiti Minister of Interior and two Kuwaiti police captains in Federal Court.
“In April of 2010, all of the plaintiffs were arrested by the Kuwaiti secret police pursuant to orders of the sheikh defendants,” the complaint states. “Plaintiffs are informed and believe that the sheikh defendants ordered that plaintiffs be arrested for two reasons: a) Hosni Mubarak, then President of Egypt, requested their arrest, and b) the sheikh defendants viewed the democratic ideals of the Egyptian Association for Change as a possible threat to their continuation in power.
“Upon being arrested, each plaintiff was held in solitary confinement in a filthy, cockroach-infested, windowless cell. The lights were kept on in each cell 24 hours a day, preventing plaintiffs from sleeping. The plaintiffs were reduced to defecating into a hole in the floor while being observed via closed-circuit camera. Each day, each plaintiff was provided with a single cup of drinking water.
“The plaintiffs were held entirely incommunicado. Their cell phones were confiscated, and as far as friends and family were concerned, they had simply disappeared. The plaintiffs requested legal counsel and consular services, but were refused. They were never charged with any crimes. They were never brought before any judge or magistrate.
“Several times each day, each plaintiff was removed from his cell, blindfolded, handcuffed behind his back, and interrogated and tortured by the captain defendants. Acting at the direction of the sheikh defendants, the captain defendants interrogated the plaintiffs concerning their political associations, while bludgeoning their heads, kicking them, caning them, and lashing them. These violent interrogations were prolonged. Plaintiff Mohammed Elsnahoury, for example, was forced to stand for four hours while being beaten continuously.”
The plaintiffs say the brutal interrogations caused them permanent damage, including spinal injuries and scars, and left some of them disabled.
According to the complaint, “plaintiffs were unable to sleep while in captivity, not only because the lights of the windowless cells were kept on 24 hours a day, but also because they were disturbed by the screams of their fellow plaintiffs being tortured.”
The plaintiffs say police denied them prescription medications for serious conditions such as arterial disease, diabetes, Mediterranean fever and dental conditions.
“In addition to inflicting physical harm upon the plaintiffs, defendants also deliberately inflicted severe psychological harm,” the complaint states. “During interrogation, defendants threatened plaintiffs with electrocution and anal rape. Defendant Al-Anzy prodded plaintiff Walid Hasan’s genitals with a bamboo cane while threatening to castrate him. He also threatened to hang Hasan upside down and to harm his relatives in Kuwait. Plaintiff Mohammed Farghaly was (falsely) informed that his wife had been arrested and would be raped.” (Parentheses in complaint.)
After they interrogated the plaintiffs, both captain defendants were promoted to major, the plaintiffs claim.
Most of the plaintiffs say they suffer from depression, inability to sleep or work, and are still undergoing psychiatric treatment for the trauma suffered while detained.
To top it off, the plaintiffs say, after their release, the Kuwaiti police deported them directly to Egypt, though all of them had been legally residing in Kuwait for over 10 years.
The plaintiffs say they lost all of their property in Kuwait, including their homes, cars, bank deposits and business income.
They seek compensatory and punitive damages for violations of the Torture Victims Protection Act and the Law of Nations.
They are represented by Sheldon Rothbell with Rothbell & Fountain of East Setauket, N.Y.
Named as defendants are Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Sheikh Jaber Khalid Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Abdallah Ali Al-Kandery, and Ahmed Mokhalaf Al-Anzy.