Egypt’s Former President Mohamed Morsi Dies after Court Appearance

Supporters of Egypt's first democratically-elected president Mohamed Morsi celebrating his victory in Tahrir Square in Cairo in June 2012. (Photo: Reuters via the Independent)

Egypt‘s former President Mohamed Morsi has died after appearing in court in the capital, Cairo, according to authorities.

The public prosecutor said the 67-year-old collapsed in a defendants’ cage in the courtroom and was pronounced dead in hospital at 4:50 pm local time (02:50 GMT) on Monday. A medical report showed no apparent recent injuries on his body, the prosecutor said.

A presenter with Egypt’s state TV said:

“Morsi died today while attending a session in his trial on espionage charges. During the session, he was granted permission to address the judge. After the session was adjourned, the former president blacked out and then died. His body was taken to a hospital.”

Morsi had a history of health issues, including diabetes and liver and kidney disease. He had suffered from medical neglect during his imprisonment, compounded by the poor conditions in jail.

There have been various reports over the years that Morsi had been mistreated and tortured in jail, with activists saying on Monday his death should be seen in the context of the Egyptian authorities’ systematic isolation and mistreatment of political detainees.

Human Rights Watch called the news of Morsi’s death “terrible” but “entirely predictable”, citing the government’s “failure to allow him adequate medical care”.

Morsi became Egypt’s first democratically elected president in 2012, one year after the Arab Spring uprising saw the end of President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.

He was then deposed in July 2013 following mass protests and a military coup led by Egypt’s current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and was immediately arrested.

Morsi served just one year of a four-year term, while the organization to which he belonged, the Muslim Brotherhood, has since been outlawed.

Morsi, who was facing at least six trials, had been behind bars for nearly six years and was serving a 20-year prison sentence for a conviction arising from the killing of protesters during demonstrations in 2012. He was also serving a life sentence for espionage in a case related to the Gulf state of Qatar.

Other charges against the former president included jailbreak, insulting the judiciary and involvement in “terrorism”.

His supporters say the charges against him were politically motivated.

In November 2016, the Court of Cassation scrapped the life imprisonment sentence for Morsi and 21 other defendants, including some who had received the death penalty in the same case, and ordered a retrial.

Throughout his imprisonment, Morsi was only allowed three visits from his family.

“The fact that Egypt’s only democratically-elected president ‘collapsed in a defendant’s cage’ as he was being tried for trumped-up charges tells us volumes about the dismal state of democracy and human rights in Egypt, and frankly in much of the Arab world as well,” said Palestinian author and commentator, Ramzy Baroud.

“The death of Mohammed Morsi should represent the death of the illusion that the Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and similar corrupt Arab rulers – with Sudan being the latest example – have any good intentions towards the revolutionary and democratic currents that are still alive and well in the region,” Baroud also said.

“The tragic death of Morsi however is not the end of the story, but rather the beginning of a new phase of struggle in Egypt,” he added.

(Al Jazeera, PC, Social Media)

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