Human Rights Watch yesterday demanded that Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and two other officials be investigated for their roles in a brutal crackdown that killed hundreds in likely "crimes against humanity".
Security forces stormed two sit-ins involving supporters of ousted president Mohammed Mursi in Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares last August 14, resulting in what the international rights group termed "one of the largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history".
A report by the group said its investigation into the crackdown and interviews with more than 200 witnesses showed that security forces intentionally used "excessive lethal force" to break up the sit-ins.
"The killings not only constituted serious violations of international human rights, but likely amounted to crimes against humanity," said the report marking one year since the carnage.
The group said its report identified the most senior security officials and key leaders in the chain of command "who should be investigated ... including Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, then defence minister Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and Medhat Menshawy", who led the crackdown at Rabaa al-Adawiya.
Kenneth Roth, executive director, of Human Rights Watch, said evidence showed the crackdown was a planned operation "that senior commanders ordered or quickly should have stopped but didn't. This was not a war ... most of the day police operated openly, shooting at people. These were widespread systematic attacks on civilian[s]"
Omar Shakir, author of the group's report, claimed Sisi had personally reviewed the Rabaa dispersal plan "for days".
"We are saying that The evidence is sufficient that those three people, in particular, warrant investigation," Shakir said.
Before the crackdown, officials "envisioned killing several thousand protesters", he said.
At least 817 demonstrators died in Rabaa al-Adawiya square alone on that day, the group said.
Egyptian authorities said the report lacked objectivity and that Human Rights Watch had no legal status to work in Egypt.