‘‘I was afraid ... They were telling me: We swear to God we will not harm you, don’t be afraid,’’ Saber said, adding, ‘‘I was being very tiresome to the police.’’
His wife also praised the police, telling state TV, ‘‘they are giving him good treatment’’ at the police hospital.
But his children said he was forced to give the story.
‘‘There are pressures on my mother to say that he is fine,’’ his daughter Randa told independent Dream TV. ‘‘The government is the one pressing him.’’
In a statement, the Interior Ministry voiced its ‘‘regret’’ about the assault and vowed to investigate.
But Interior Minister Ibrahim echoed Saber’s account and said initial investigation results showed it was protesters who stripped and beat Saber. He said riot police found Saber and tried to get him into the van — ‘‘though the way they did it was excessive.’’
On Sunday, Saber told investigators that it was indeed police who beat and stripped him. Speaking to Al-Hayat TV, he said he gave his initial account because was afraid, then broke down in tears as he recounted begging the policemen for mercy.
‘‘But no one gave me mercy,’’ he wept. ‘‘My whole body was smashed.’’ He has now been moved to a civilian hospital.
Rights activists say police intimidation of victims and their families to prevent complaints was rife under Mubarak and continues unabated. In a report last month, the Egyptian Initiative For Personal Rights documented 16 cases of police violence in which 11 people were killed and 10 tortured in police stations. Three died under torture during the first four months after Morsi took office on June 30, it said.
The rights group said officers increasingly act ‘‘like a gang taking revenge.’’
In one case it documented, police in the Nile Delta town of Meet Ghamr stormed a cafe and beat up patrons in September. When one woman who was beaten went to the police station to complain, the man accompanying her was arrested and tortured to death, the report said.
The sister of the slain man told AP that her brother’s widow was paid the equivalent of around $25,000 to say that he was killed by a rock to his head during a protest.
‘‘The main issue is that nothing has changed about the police. No change about accountability. There is just as much impunity as there was under Mubarak,’’ said Heba Morayef of Human Rights Watch. The past two years ‘‘we've seen an increase in the police’s likelihood to use lethal force ... in the context of regular policing activities.’’
In the case of el-Gindy, the activist who died Monday, fellow activists say he disappeared during the Jan. 27 Tahrir protest and they later learned from people who left the Red Mountain security camp that he was being held there. Soon after, el-Gindy was brought to a hospital in a coma and on Monday he died.
After his burial Monday in his hometown of Tanta in the Nile Delta, angry mourners marched on police headquarters and clashes erupted, with protesters throwing firebombs and stones and police firing back with tear gas.
At a funeral ceremony held earlier at a mosque in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, there was widespread skepticism anyone would be held accountable for el-Gindy’s death.
‘‘So this blood will be wasted so easily?’’ one woman in black screamed.
‘‘It will be lost,’’ an elderly man responded. ‘‘Like others were before.’’
AP reporter Amir Maqar contributed to this report.