Cairo: A man, seen in a widely watched video being stripped and beaten during a protest against Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi, has retracted his earlier accusation that he was assaulted by anti-government demonstrators.
“I ask all Egyptians to forgive me,” Hamada Saber, 48, tearfully said in a TV interview Sunday night. “I lied for the sake of Egypt because I did not want to add to the trouble in the country.”
Saber was seen in the video being stripped naked, beaten and dragged by baton-wielding riot police during a protest outside the presidential palace in eastern Cairo on Friday. The footage outraged the nation and brought Mursi under sharp criticism of condoning alleged rights violations by police almost two years after a popular uprising toppled his predecessor Husni Mubarak.
“I decided to tell the truth after my family and folks disowned me for lying about the ones who dragged me on the ground,” Saber told Al Hayat private TV by telephone from a police hospital.
“Previously, I did not accuse the police because of the good treatment I received at the hospital and because senior officers came to me and kissed my head in apology for what had happened to me,” he added. “I don’t need anything from anyone. I’m ready to die for Egypt.”
As Saber spoke, the video of his abuse was being rerun on the screen, showing helmeted police throwing him into an armoured vehicle after repeatedly beating him up.
The incident prompted Majid Akad, a member of the Shura Council, or the upper house of parliament, to announce his resignation in protest. Meanwhile, the main opposition group, the National Salvation Front, demanded Mursi fire the newly appointed Interior Minister Mohammad Ebrahim, who is in charge of the security forces.
Mursi’s office said it was “pained by the shocking video”, terming the incident a violation of human dignity.
An apology was expressed by the Interior Ministry which said the incident was being investigated.
The video comes to light at a time when Mursi’s opponents vociferously accuse him of betraying the revolution that cleared the way for him to become Egypt’s first elected civilian president.