Family Of Missing Christian Woman In Egypt Accuse Police Of Complicity In Her Kidnapping

Hanan Adly Girgis disappeared on January 26, 2017.World Watch Monitor

The family of an 18-year-old Egyptian Christian woman who has been missing since January 26 has accused the police of complicity in her kidnapping after they failed to act against an alleged suspect who admitted involvement.

Hanan Adly Girgis was found to be missing from the family home in Esna, a village in Upper Egypt, when some of her brothers returned at night, according to World Watch Monitor (WWM).

After failing to find Hanan, her brothers and their lawyer made a formal complaint to the police, accusing a neighbour, Mohamed Ahmed Nubi Soliman, 27, of her kidnapping.

Prosecutors summoned Soliman and, according to WWM, he admitted a connection with the incident. However, he was released due to lack of physical evidence.

The Girgis family's lawyer, Barsoum Wahba, said that there has been no progress with the case, despite protests outside the police station by friends and family of Hanan.

Romany Adly Girgis, one of the missing girl's brothers, explained to WWM what happened on the night she went missing. He and other brothers were away from home watering crops on their land, leaving only one of the brothers, Rezeiky, at home with his wife, their elderly mother and Hanan.

'At about 10.30pm our neighbours – cousins of Soliman – told my brother Rezeiky that they saw a thief close to our livestock shed,' Romany said. 'Rezeiky took a blanket and headed to the shed to guard it for the night.'

Romany said that she thinks this was a plan to ensure that Rezeiky left the women alone in the house.

'At 3am, when my brothers and I returned, we found the door open,' she said. 'Our mother was sleeping but Hanan wasn't in her room. We thought she might be asleep with my sister in-law and woke her, but Hanan wasn't there. We searched everywhere and went to relatives to see if she had gone to them but none of them had seen her.'

Rezeiky explained that Hanan had no reason to leave home suddenly: 'There was no disagreement between us, she was very happy. She was engaged to a man she'd chosen to be with. They had planned to go and buy jewellery together the following day; and she had just bought new clothes for her cousin's wedding on Sunday.'

He added that her clothes, jewellery, ID card and birth certificate were still in her bedroom. 'If she had run away she would have taken them with her,' he said.

Crucially, the brothers found one of Hanan's slippers near the door and believe she was taken while she was still in her night clothes. 'If she wanted to leave home she would have been dressed, not in pyjamas, Rezeiky said.

Romany told WWM that the neighbour 'hates' his family and explained how he thought the kidnapping took place. 'Our neighbour, Mohamed Ahmed Nubi Soliman, told us he saw a Tuk-Tuk [small taxi] stop next to our home at midnight and saw two men carry something to it. We think this neighbour is one of the kidnappers because he hates us, and, when we asked him about who the people with the Tuk-Tuk were, he wouldn't answer.'

Romany alleged that Soliman is involved in illegal activities, and said that he has often caused trouble for the Girgis family.

On the night of the kidnapping, Rezeiky did not find anyone at the livestock shed. "It was a plan to get him out of our house so Hanan could be kidnapped," Romany said.

When the police took no immediate action, the family organised a protest outside the police station demanding that the police investigate.

Romany speculated that Christians may be targeted by both the kidnapper and complicit police.

'They promised us many times that they would help return Hanan but they have done nothing," Romany said. "We don't know why they don't help us. Is it because we are Christians, or do they connive with kidnappers to take Christian girls to convert to Islam? We accuse them of apathy and complicity.'

The family lawyer Barsoum Wahba added: 'There is a state of police indifference towards the case of Hanan. They did nothing to help the brothers...They said 'give us two days and we will bring her back', but these are words without actions. They aren't serious even though they know they have the capability to know where Hanan is and who kidnapped her. Because the victim is a Christian girl we see inaction. It is a farce. We want people to deal with us as human beings and not deal with us as second-class citizens. We feel we have no rights.'