Protester killed as Egypt braces for court verdict

Updated 09 March 2013
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Protester killed as Egypt braces for court verdict

PORT SAID: A protester was shot dead in clashes in Port Said early yesterday on the eve of a court verdict on a deadly football riot, with unrest pushing Egypt’s already precarious government to the brink.
The Interior Ministry said yesterday that it was withdrawing police from their headquarters in the city “to calm tensions” and handed the military responsibility for the building’s protection.
The military has been deployed in the restive Suez Canal city since protests erupted there in late January after a court sentenced 21 defendants to death in the case.
Today the court, again sitting for security reasons in the capital, is due to judge the remaining 52 defendants for their involvement in a 2011 stadium riot that killed 74 people, mostly fans of visiting Cairo side Al-Ahly.
If convicted, defendants are sentenced simultaneously under Egypt’s justice system.
The latest verdict will coincide with unprecedented protests nationwide by police themselves, including in the canal city of Ismailiya where riot police have said they will refuse to obey orders to deploy in neighboring Port Said.
The striking policemen say they are not equipped to deal with violent protesters, and complain they are being made to suffer the consequences of government mistakes.
On Thursday, protesters again marched on the police headquarters in Port Said, which had already been torched in previous incidents, and clashed with officers. One protester was shot dead overnight and 73 people were wounded, medics said.
President Muhammad Mursi had deployed the military to bolster police in the city after the court sentenced 21 Port Said residents to death for their role in the 2011 riot.
The remaining defendants to be judged on Saturday include nine policemen and three officials of the Port Said football club, Al-Masry.
The city is now bracing for a repeat of violence there in January that killed dozens of people after the initial verdict.
“What happens on Saturday depends on the verdict,” said Al-Badry Al-Farghali, a former parliamentarian from Port Said. “I believe it’s best to delay the verdict, or Egypt will go up in flames, here or elsewhere.”
Police have now largely withdrawn from the city, with soldiers taking over much of their duties.
“I’m terrified of what could happen on Saturday,” one soldier guarding the police headquarters told AFP.
Mursi’s beleaguered government will have to contend with protests in Cairo should the court exonerate the remaining defendants — Al-Ahly fans have threatened to stage violent protests if the court issues lenient verdicts.
“If there is no justice on March 9, you will wish you could find a way to escape,” the group warned police in a message posted on its Facebook page.
The official MENA news agency reported yesterday that the Interior Ministry planned to deploy 2,000 policemen outside Cairo’s police academy, where a panel of judges will deliver a verdict in a makeshift courtroom.
More unrest will further imperil the government’s plans to push ahead with economic reforms needed to secure a $4.8-billion International Monetary Fund loan.


Kuwait arrests 2 Filipinos accused of helping runaway maids

Updated 23 April 2018
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Kuwait arrests 2 Filipinos accused of helping runaway maids

  • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has banned workers from heading to Kuwait over abuse cases
  • The two countries have since been negotiating for new rules governing Filipino workers there
KUWAIT CITY: Kuwaiti police arrested two Filipinos for allegedly convincing housemaids to run away from their employers’ homes as the Philippines’ ambassador faced questions for comments about his embassy’s work in aiding abused workers, authorities said Sunday.
The arrests, reported by the state-run KUNA news agency, come as relations are tense between Kuwait and the Philippines, which sends many domestic laborers to the Gulf Arab emirate.
Already, the government of President Rodrigo Duterte has banned workers from heading to Kuwait over abuse cases, culminating in a February incident that saw a Filipino’s body discovered in a freezer at a Kuwait City apartment abandoned for more than a year.
KUNA said Sunday the two Filipinos acknowledged convincing the maids to leave. It wasn’t clear what law the two men were accused of breaking, though KUNA said the two “confessed to the crime in addition to other similar offenses that had been committed in various regions of the country.”
The arrests came after Kuwait summoned the Philippines ambassador over comments he made that were reported in local press about the embassy’s effort to rescue domestic workers who are abused by their employers. Ambassador Renato Villa was quoted as saying his embassy moves in to help the abused if Kuwaiti authorities fail to respond within 24 hours.
Villa’s office said he was unavailable for comment Sunday.
Duterte in January complained that cases of abuse reported by Filipino domestic workers “always” seem to be coming from Kuwait.
There have been prominent cases of abuse in the past, including an incident in December 2014 where a Kuwaiti’s pet lions fatally mauled a Filipino maid.
The Philippines banned workers entirely from Kuwait after the discovery of Joanna Demafelis’ body in a freeze in February. In late March, Lebanese officials said 40-year-old Lebanese national Nader Essam Assaf confessed to killing the woman along with his Syrian wife, who remains at large. Authorities say Assaf faces a possible death sentence.
More than 260,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, many of them as housemaids. Kuwait and the Philippines have since been negotiating for new rules governing Filipino workers there.
Philippine officials have demanded that housemaids be allowed to hold their passports and cellphones, which is normal for skilled workers like teachers and office workers. But many Kuwaiti employers seize their phones and passports.