Killing Kids

Petros Giannakouris

January 2007
Killing Kids
Investigators are still deciphering the bizarre web of lies spun by a gang accused of raping and murdering at least 14 street children
By Manal el-Jesr

Police got their first big break with the arrest of 18-year-old Ahmed Samir Abdel Moneim, nicknamed Boqqo, and 19-year-old Mohammed Abdel Aziz Salama, known as El-Seweisi. The pair confessed to the murder of 14 victims in Cairo, Alexandria, El-Behaira, Gharbeyya, Qalyoubeya and Beni Sueif. They admitted that they had lured street children onto the tops of trains en route from Cairo to Alexandria, where they then raped them and tossed the naked bodies onto the opposite tracks. Other victims were drowned in the Nile or dumped in sewers; others still were buried alive.

Throughout December, parents of missing children flocked to local prosecutors’ offices to find out if their children were among the known victims. A mother from Shebin El-Kom went to the Shubra El-Kheima office with a picture of her son, who had gone missing a year and a half ago.

Mohammed Ibrahim Salem, 14, was raped and killed on the tracks between Tanta and Damanhour. Three months earlier, Boqqo continued, he and his gang had killed Mohammed Kamal, 12. (The skeleton that had triggered the search was initially identified as Kamal’s.)

CHILDREN KILLING CHILDREN

The gang’s ringleader, identified as Ramadan Abdel Rehim Mansour — better known as El-Tourbini (Express Train) — has allegedly told prosecutors he was possessed by a female jinn who orders him to rape children. All of his victims, he added, were 10–14 year-olds, including three girls whom he had raped and killed.

Tourbini left home as a child, and despite being from Cairo, he earned a thick file in the vice department of Borg El-Arab police station in Alexandria. Alexandria was a much safer haunt for him and his gang — Cairo, El-Tourbini told the prosecutors, is swarming with cops.

Little by little, El-Tourbini gave the investigators more information. Ahmed Nagui, 12, was killed in vengeance. The boy used to be a member of Tourbini’s gang, but when El-Tourbini tried to force Nagui to have sex, the boy went to the police. El-Tourbini was arrested and briefly kept in custody, but was released for lack of evidence. Soon after he got out, prosecutors allege, he raped and killed Nagui.

El-Seweisi has reportedly confessed to being Tourbini’s right-hand man. His story is similar to Tourbini’s: He had left home at the age of seven when his father, who worked in the Ministry of Education, kicked him out of the house — El-Seweisi can no longer recall why. The only way to find food and shelter was to be part of a larger group, so he hooked up with other street children who told him he had to either steal food, clean or beg. He opted to beg.

El-Seweisi later claimed that El-Tourbini had been planning to kill him after he had dispensed of Nagui’s body. According to El-Seweisi, prior to his first arrest El-Tourbini was married to a girl named Azza. El-Seweisi fell in love with her, helped her get an abortion and later forced her into prostitution. The prosecution discovered that Azza had a child by El-Tourbini and was also raising another child whom he had told her to take care of.

Tourbini has since been kept in solitary confinement.

Shown a picture of a missing boy, El-Seweisi promptly affirmed that the gang had raped and killed him. Investigators found out that the boy had since returned to his family in El-Beheira.

Frustrated investigators began to feel that the gang was only buying time. Although the accused had confessed to over 30 murders and identified 21 pictures of deceased and missing children, only 10 bodies had been found.

Recent developments suggest there may in fact be several street gangs kidnapping and raping children ­— Bazzaza admitted he hopped between a number of such gangs. He named members of a Damanhour gang allegedly led by 17-year-old Ali Karim Abdel Azim, aka Hantoura, and including 16-year-olds Haitham Hamdy Hassan, Karim Hanafi Eid and 15-year-old Sami El-Shahhat El-Sayyed.

The case took its most surprising turn yet when the 12-year-old Kamal, very much alive, gave an interview to the independent newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm. Kamal — who used to sell tissues on the streets but had returned home last fall — had known Tourbini, whom he described as “an idiotic lunatic.” Kamal told reporters that El-Seweisi was the real ringleader and that the suspects in custody would readily confess to crimes they did not commit.

At press time, investigators were still looking for more bodies in Kafr El-Dawwar, Itay El-Baroud, Mahmoudia, and Beni Sueif.

 

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