Egyptian air force officer faces investigation after attack on hospital nurses

The officer and several family members purportedly filmed beating hospital staff for allegedly neglecting his pregnant wife

Egyptian Heath Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar visited the hospital where the attack allegedly took place. AFP
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An Egyptian air force officer is under investigation over an assault on nurses at a hospital.

Health Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar visited the Quweisna Central Hospital after the incident on Saturday to meet the nurses.

The government-run hospital is one of the largest in the northern province of Menoufia.

“Verbal or physical assault on any medical facility worker is unacceptable and those who trespass will be held accountable according to law,” Mr Abdel Ghaffar said, in a statement posted on the ministry’s Facebook page.

An Armed Forces spokesman said an investigation had been launched and advised people to “practice accuracy and wait until investigations conclude”.

Video taken by a doctor at the hospital purportedly showed five nurses and three other female hospital workers being beaten by the officer and his brother. Four of the officer's female relatives were purportedly shown joining in the attack, including one who was using a leather riding crop.

The alleged assault was one of Egypt's top trending topics on Twitter on Sunday.

In another video posted online, one of the nurses said the officer’s pregnant wife was brought to the hospital’s obstetrics ward after she reported light bleeding. They asked to see an obstetrician but were told to wait as all of the doctors were attending to other, more urgent cases.

The nurses were instructed to conduct a sonar scan and blood work on the patient to ensure that she was not in any real danger, which showed that there was no cause for immediate concern, the nurse said.

She said an elderly woman in the officer’s group began to threaten the nurses and complain that they were not being responsive enough, leading to an altercation that escalated into the attack.

A video of the assault purportedly showed members of the officer's group snatching the nurses' phones as they tried to film the incident. At the same time, a woman who appeared to be the officer’s sister began a live stream from inside the hospital in which she is heard saying, “since they are taking videos of their own, I will also do the same”.

She can be heard screaming, “My sister-in-law is dying and you refuse to offer any assistance.”

Another video taken after the attack shows hospital officials allegedly urging the nurses and their family members not to press charges.

“If the incident escalates to the level of prosecutors, I will not be able to defend you properly,” the hospital director is purportedly seen saying.

The husband of one of the nurses phoned into a talk show on state television on Saturday night and said that the hospital’s management had initially wanted them to reconcile with the officer and his family, but when the incident went viral on social media, “there were moves taken to restore justice for us”.

He alleged that one of the officer’s relatives offered him one million Egyptian pounds (about $41,000) to settle the issue.

Updated: December 04, 2022, 2:55 PM