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Egyptian officer suspected of being 'The Eye Hunter,' shooting protesters

From Mohamed Fadel Fahmy
November 26, 2011 -- Updated 1043 GMT (1843 HKT)
A protester is treated on November 20 in Tahrir Square. At least five demonstrators have been shot in the eye, authorities say.
A protester is treated on November 20 in Tahrir Square. At least five demonstrators have been shot in the eye, authorities say.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • At least 5 protesters have been shot in the eye, authorities say
  • Protesters call the suspect "The Eye Hunter" and have fliers with his image
  • An Interior Ministry spokesman calls him a "highly trained marksman"
  • Two of the victims recall being shot, including one who has lost both eyes

Cairo (CNN) -- Egypt's general prosecutor on Friday ordered a police officer to submit to questioning regarding his suspected role in shooting protesters in the eyes during recent clashes in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

"The Ministry of Interior is preoccupied by the latest events, but he will come in for questioning soon," Adel Saeed, a spokesman for Egypt's general prosecutor, said about the suspect, 1st Lt. Mahmoud Sobhi El Shinawi.

The evidence offered against El Shinawi includes videos recorded by protesters and posted on Facebook, Saeed said. At least five demonstrators have been shot in the eye, according to authorities.

They are among hundreds of casualties over the past week. Some 41 people have died -- 33 of them in Cairo -- while an additional 3,250 had been wounded as of Friday, Health Ministry spokesman Hisham Shiha has said.

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Protesters have called El Shinawi, specifically, "The Eye Hunter" and have sprayed "wanted" stencils featuring his face, name and rank on the walls around Tahrir Square.

Fliers with his photograph have also been distributed to people in the square, which is the hub of the activist movement railing against Egypt's military leaders. They include a reward offer of 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($800) for information leading to the suspect, according to the artist who painted the stencil and asked not be named.

El Shinawi has been on duty on Cairo's Mohamed Mahmoud street during the recent clashes and is a "highly trained marksman," 1st Lt. Alaa Mahmoud, an Interior Ministry spokesman, told CNN. The spokesman declined to comment on the specific accusations against El Shinawi.

One of the suspect's alleged victims is Ahmed Harrara. Harrara, who lost one eye on January 28 during the uprising against then-President Hosni Mubarak, lost his other eye last Sunday on Mahmoud Street.

Both he and at least one other victim, Malek Mustapha, said they were blindsided by their shootings -- and, therefore, could not pinpoint the shooter or shooters. Yet they were able to recall the circumstances.

Harrara told CNN that he'd arrived in Tahrir Square around 3 p.m. Saturday "and joined the front lines in (the) street battle."

"Around 3 a.m. I was shot in the eye with a rubber bullet from about a distance of 7 to 10 meters (23 to 33 feet)," he said.

He lost his second eye, then fell to the ground "during one of many tear gas attacks."

"My friend drove me on a motorbike to three hospitals that could not (treat) the injury, until one hospital operated and closed the wound," Harrara recalled.

The bullet remains lodged in his eye socket, leaving him blind. But the shooting victim said, "My spirits are high, and I should be traveling to Switzerland within the next 10 days (for) tests and operations."

Harrara said that he had no political affiliations during the initial uprising that led to Mubarak's ouster in February. He is now a member of the People's Socialist Party, which opposes military leaders' interim authority over the Egyptian government.

On Friday, his older brother Hatem, and friends helped Harrara navigate around Tahrir Square once again.

"My brother's eye is more important than Egypt, but for Ahmed, Egypt is more important than his eyes," Hatem said. "The policeman who shot my brother must be punished and executed."

Last Saturday, CNN witnessed a similar incident also on Mahmoud Street involving Mustapha, a blogger who was shot in his right eye.

"Doctors say I have a blood clot in the eye and will need several operations soon," Mustapha told CNN.

Mansour al-Essawy, the interior minister appointed by Egypt's ruling military council, said Friday in a statement that "no live ammunition, rubber or birdshot (has been) fired at the protesters."

But Shiha, a Health Ministry spokesman, has told CNN that many of those killed and wounded were shot by "live ammunition, rubber bullets and birdshot."

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