Government Fact-Finding

Events of Maspero

Established by:

Ministry of Justice as ordered by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF)

Mandate

To “investigate the causes of the Maspero events, the instigators and all those responsible … in addition to investigating the truth of what happened in the village of Marinab, including reviewing the results of the investigations conducted by the Public Prosecution.”

Methodology

Visiting Marinab village and holding hearings to collect testimony from eyewitnesses, journalists, and first responders to the violence, including emergency response teams.

Named Members

Led by Omar Marwan (assistant minister of justice).

Findings

The fact-finding committee submitted its final report to the cabinet and military prosecution on October 20, 2011, to support ongoing military investigations. While the fact-finding committee did not publicly release its report or publish its activities, close sources and media reports revealed some of the committee’s findings.

  • The fact-finding committee collaborated with the Forensic Medical Authority to analyze casualty reports and hear from Dr. Mahmoud Ahmed, who described civilian injuries and provided autopsy records. He testified that victims were shot by live bullets from neighboring buildings and run over by police vehicles.
  • After site visits and over 50 interviews were conducted, the fact-finding committee determined that a group of thugs infiltrated the demonstrations and spurred the chaos, attacking both protesters and the military.
  • Expanding its mandate, the committee also launched an additional investigation into unlicensed Coptic churches and found that there were 55 Egyptian churches unable to procure permits or security services necessary to operate; these findings ultimately prompted Prime Minister Essam Sharaf to reopen 16 closed churches in Egypt.

Recommendations

The fact-finding committee did not make its recommendations available to the public.

Analysis

Operating under the SCAF, the fact-finding committee unsurprisingly defended the actions of security forces at Maspero. Rather than admit that the military targeted Coptic protesters with disproportionate aggression, as determined by a number of investigations including those of the National Council on Human Rights and Human Rights Watch (HRW), sources confirming the content of the committee’s report state that it argued that the military was reacting appropriately to violent thugs. Further, although the investigation visited the Marinab Church and positively triggered the reopening of 16 Coptic churches, it did not directly acknowledge the sectarian nature of events—a key element that was missing in the telling of the story.

The Egyptian Center for Human Rights (ECHR), HRW, and various media sources criticized the fact-finding committee’s military affiliation and recommended the formation of an independent commission. Per independent critiques, the committee not only failed to lay blame on culpable security forces, but also provided no final report and offered no recommendations; ECHR concluded that in all of these criticisms, the committee failed to fulfill its obligation to the general public and the civilians killed at Maspero.

Report

A copy of the fact-finding committee’s report is not available.