The UN human rights office called Tuesday for an “independent inquiry” into former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi’s death while in state custody.
“Any sudden death in custody must be followed by a prompt, impartial, thorough and transparent investigation carried out by an independent body to clarify the cause of death,” said Rupert Colville, spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president in 2012 after the Arab Spring uprisings, was overthrown in 2013 after a brief, turbulent term in power.
He died Monday after collapsing during a trial hearing in a Cairo court.
“Concerns have been raised regarding the conditions of Mr Morsi’s detention, including access to adequate medical care, as well as sufficient access to his lawyers and family, during his nearly six years in custody,” Colville said.
He noted that Morsi “also appears to have been held in prolonged solitary confinement,” and said the investigation must “encompass all aspects of the authorities’ treatment of Mr. Morsi to examine whether the conditions of his detention had an impact on his death.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday paid tribute to former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi who died in a Cairo hospital after fainting during a court session, calling him a “martyr.”
“May Allah rest our brother Morsi, our martyr’s soul, in peace,” said Erdogan, who had forged close ties with Morsi.
Relations between Turkey and Egypt have been virtually non-existent since the Egyptian military, then led by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, in 2013 ousted Islamist president Morsi. Sisi has since become president.
Erdogan has strongly denounced Morsi’s ouster and called for the release of Muslim Brotherhood prisoners in Egypt.
Speaking in Istanbul, Erdogan again took aim at Sisi, calling him a “tyrant” who took power in a “coup” and who has trampled on democracy.
“The West has remained silent,” Erdogan said.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said: “The coup moved him (Morsi) away from the power but his memory will not be erased.”
Former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi died on Monday in a Cairo hospital after fainting during a session in court, judicial and security sources said.
“He was speaking before the judge for 20 minutes then became very animated and fainted. He was quickly rushed to the hospital where he later died,” a judicial source said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a strong ally of the Islamist president during his brief tenure as Egypt’s leader, paid tribute to Morsi and called him a “martyr”.
The official Al-Ahram news website also reported the death of Morsi, 67, who was Egypt’s first democratically elected president but spent just one turbulent year in office after the 2011 uprising before the army toppled him in 2013.
The Islamist leader has been in prison since his ouster on trial for several cases including for spying for Iran, Qatar and militant groups such as Hamas in the Gaza Strip. He was also accused of plotting terror acts.
Since his overthrow on July 3, 2013, his former defence minister now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has waged an ongoing crackdown targeting his supporters from the Muslim Brotherhood with thousands jailed and hundreds facing death sentences.
The years following Morsi’s overthrow have seen a surge in bombings and shootings targeting security forces, particularly in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula, a stronghold of the Islamic State group.
Morsi’s turbulent rule was marked by deep divisions in Egyptian society, a crippling economic crisis and often-deadly opposition protests.
Egypt’s highest appeal court has again overturned a life sentence handed down to ousted President Mohammed Morsi.
The Court of Cassation ordered that the 65-year-old be retried on the charge of conspiring to commit terrorist acts with foreign organisations.
Last week, the court quashed a death sentence handed to Morsi in a separate case revolving around a mass prison break during the 2011 revolution.
But he is still serving lengthy sentences related to two other cases.
Morsi became Egypt’s first democratically elected president in 2012, but he was removed by the military a year later after mass protests against his rule.
The organisation to which he belonged, the Muslim Brotherhood, has since been outlawed.
A government crackdown on the movement, as well as other groups, has resulted in tens of thousands of arrests and mass trials.
Morsi’s lawyer, Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsoud, told AFP news agency that the sentences against several Muslim Brotherhood officials, who stood trial alongside him on charges of spying for Iran and Hamas, were also overturned.
Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste was released from a Cairo jail on Sunday and left Egypt to Cyrus after 400 days in prison on charges that included aiding a terrorist group.
The Australian ex-BBC correspondent was arrested in December 2013 and tried with his two Al Jazeera colleagues on charges that included spreading false news and aiding the Muslim Brotherhood.
There was no official word on the fate of his two Al Jazeera colleagues – Canadian-Egyptian, Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian National, Baher Mohamed.
The three were sentenced to seven to 10 years on charges including spreading lies to help a terrorist organization – a reference to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
Mr Fahmy, who holds dual Egyptian and Canadian citizenship, may be freed after having his Egyptian Nationality was revoked.
All the defendants denied the charges against them and said their trial was a sham.
They were accused of collaborating with the banned Muslim Brotherhood after the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi by the Military in 2013.
In their defence, the three men said they were simply reporting the news.
Many Egyptians see Qatar-based Al Jazeera as a force set on destabilizing the country, a view that had been encouraged in the Local Media which labeled the Journalists “The Marriott Cell”, because they worked from a hotel of the U.S.based chain.
Egyptian authorities accused Al Jazeera of being a mouthpiece of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Qatar-backed movement which President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi toppled in 2013 when he was Egypt’s army chief.
The timing of Greste’s release came as a surprise, just days after Egypt suffered one of the bloodiest militant attacks in years. More than 30 members of the security forces were killed on Thursday night in Sinai, and ensuing comments from Sisi suggested he was in no mood for compromise.
The Interior Ministry said on its Facebook page that Sisi released Greste under a decree issued in November authorizing the President to approve the deportation of foreign prisoners.
Network Africa on this edition starts off from Nigeria where the House of Representatives, concerned about the increase in the number of Nigerian students killed abroad, has mandated a joint committee to conduct a public hearing on the matter and report back to the House in two months.
Raising the motion, the Chairman of the House Committee on Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, says Nigerian students have become endangered species in different parts of the world, leading to the House urging Nigerian embassies in Ghana, Malaysia, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and South Africa to ensure all pending cases are thoroughly investigated.
Oscar Pistorius Trial
It appears to be a 50 /50 chance for the Paralympics star as a key Police ballistics expert says Oscar Pistorius was not wearing his prosthetic legs when he shot his girlfriend, as the athlete’s trial continued in South Africa.
The prosecution says he intentionally shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013, after an argument. Mr Pistorius denies murdering her, saying he thought she was an intruder. The latest account lends support to the defence team’s insistence that the shooting was not premeditated.
Our South Africa correspondent, Betty Dibia, tells us specifically about the happenings on day 11 of the trial which was the very first time the mother of the deceased showed up since the proceedings began.
Also from South Africa, President Jacob Zuma is being slammed by critics for using way too much money to give his home a makeover.
The amount which is 23 million dollars was state-funded and was for a security upgrade to his private home that included a swimming pool, cattle enclosure and amphitheatre.
As a consequence, he might have to repay costs for some of the unnecessary renovations.
Rest of Africa
The plans of 2 men were foiled when Kenyan police arrested them, when they suspected them of having links to Somali Islamist militant group after they were tracked and found to have six large bombs that may have been aimed for use in the area of the port city of Mombasa.
The search for greener pastures almost claimed the lives of 596 people as the Italian Navy was able to rescue the people off the Italian coast on Monday (March 17), 62 of whom were children.
The migrants, mainly from Eritrea, were huddled onto two different boats and were spotted by the Italian Navy ships off the coast of the southern island of Lampedusa.
Meanwhile, two Egyptian army officers and five jihadist militants have been killed in a gunfight that erupted during a raid North of Cairo.
The Brigadier and Colonel, both bomb disposal experts, took part in the raid on a warehouse in Qal-Yu-Bi-Ya province along with police and Special Forces.
The militants were from Ansar beit al-maqdis, which has claimed responsibility for a string of attacks. The Al-Qaeda-linked group, which is based in the Sinai Peninsula, is believed to have killed more than 200 security forces and government personnel since the military overthrew President Mohammed Morsi in July.
A Trip To Space
Despite the tension in Egypt, however, some people are realizing their dreams of going outside of the planet. Egyptian adventurer and mountaineer, Omar Samra will soon become the first Egyptian to travel to space after winning the Axe Space Academy competition.
Samra is among 23 winners of the competition who are set to be sent into orbit in early 2015, in a journey he says has been a lifelong dream.
In spite of the concerns raised by the Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, over the Boko Haram insurgents, the Federal Government of Nigeria remains optimistic and has given the assurance that its war against terror is being won and there’s no need to panic.
At a news conference in Abuja, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe, revealed that the military was fully equipped to deal with security threats in the country’s North East.
In South Sudan, it’s starting to look like a case of one step forward two steps back; as fighting has broken out in Upper Nile State, making this the first major clash since the Government and rebels signed a ceasefire agreement in January.
Both sides have accused each other of starting the violence in Malakal, the capital of Upper Nile State. We speak to Philip Aguer, the SPLA spokesperson who is currently in Malakal to give us more details on the situation there.
Meanwhile, in South Africa, the search for gold has led to the death of at least 3 people and the arrest of about 22. The bodies of three illegal miners have been discovered at a disused mine, East of Johannesburg. The abandoned mine is in the same area where more than 20 illegal miners were recently rescued after being trapped underground for several days.
Network Africa also finds out if Uganda would be joining the likes of Nigeria, Angola, Burundi and well over a score of countries who have got anti-gay laws in place by not succumbing to the pressure of Washington, which does not support the move, or would they bow to the pressure from Washington not to sign the Anti-Gay Bill into law?
We also bring you a couple of stories which made headlines in Africa this week, starting with former Rwandan Mayor, Onesphore Rwa-Bu-Kom-Be, who got sentenced by a German court for his role in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.
The head of the UN Refugee Agency in Liberia is concerned about the alleged “forced deportation” of 14 Ivorian refugees.
Lawyers for deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi have walked out of his trial on charges of espionage and conspiring to commit acts of terror. Mr Morsi was put in the soundproof cage in recent appearances to prevent him shouting and disrupting proceedings.
The defendants have said they cannot follow proceedings because of the cage, but the judge insisted that headphones installed inside the dock would allow them to listen.
The Egyptian Prime Minister, Hazem Beblawi, has confirmed that Islamist militants in the Sinai Peninsula are becoming a threat to foreign tourists, and they are not leaving anything to chance concerning an apparent ultimatum given by Islamist militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis for tourists to leave the country. We bring you a chat with Elizabeth Arrott of the Voice of America, who is in Cairo for a clearer understanding of the situation.
Egyptian Comedy Club
Despite the tension, threats and unrest, some Egyptians have embraced the funny side of life. An Egyptian comedy club is giving new talent a platform to perform and introduce them to the international world of stand-up.
It was founded by Hashem El Garhy and its called ‘Al Hezb El Comedy’ meaning ‘The Comedy Party’. It remains the only existing comedy platform in Egypt, which offers aspiring comedians room to perform.
The Egyptian capital, Cairo is poised for renewed protests by supporters of ousted President Mohammed Mursi. They are expected to take place two days after authorities broke up Muslim Brotherhood protest camps in Cairo with the loss of at least 638 lives.
Mr Morsi’s supporters plan to converge on central Ramses Square from city mosques after Friday prayers. A state of emergency is in force and police have been authorised to use live ammunition in self-defence.
The Muslim Brotherhood called on its supporters to gather in mosques for Friday prayers and then take to the streets of Cairo in a “march of anger”.The group’s leaders say they will hold marches under the slogan “the people want to topple the coup”.
Security in the capital is tight, with many armoured personnel carriers on the streets. Members of groups opposed to Mr Morsi – the National Salvation Front and Tamarod – are reported to have called for counter-demonstrations in response.
Egypt’s Coptic Christian community has been targeted by some Islamists who accuse the Church of backing the army’s overthrow of Mr Morsi last month.
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, an NGO, says 25 churches, along with private homes and businesses belonging to Copts and other Christian denominations, were attacked on Wednesday and Thursday.
Alexandria, a Muslim Brotherhood stronghold, appears largely quiet. The authorities in Egypt’s second city have cleared piles of sandbags, barricades and a tent camp set up by Mr Morsi’s followers and sympathizers in the past few weeks outside the main pro-Morsi rallying point, Al-Qaed Ibrahim Mosque.
Many shops and malls remain closed despite the end of the nightly 12-hour curfew imposed here and in 13 more cities. At night, the city’s streets look virtually empty as the authorities have further applied emergency laws and authorised the use of live ammunition if vital security and military posts come under attack.
Unlike other curfews in the past two and a half years, there is no defiance from the general public. However, vigilante groups have been formed in several neighbourhoods to protect private property including houses and cars.
The city has been at the heart of the political turmoil gripping the country since the removal of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
There are fears of renewed bloodshed after authorities said the police were authorised to use live ammunition to protect themselves and key state institutions from attack.
Reports say there were renewed attacks on security forces on Thursday, with at least seven soldiers and a policeman killed in the Sinai peninsula and another police officer killed in the central city of Assuit.
US Republican Senator John McCain said Newsnight that the ousting of President Morsi was a “coup” and President Obama should have cut off aid to Egypt as a result.
President Mohammed Morsi has welcomed his call for a 15 December referendum on a controversial draft constitution.
A large rally of Islamist supporters at the Cairo University cheered the announcement yesterday night.
But opposition figures vowed to fight against the draft document, which they say undermines basic freedom.
Egypt’s highest court is expected to rule later today on the legitimacy of the assembly that agreed to the draft.
Even if the supreme constitutional court were to go as far as deciding to disband the Islamist-dominated constituent assembly, it is unclear whether that would affect the planned 15 December referendum.
Mr. Morsi called on “all Egyptians” to take part in the referendum, whether or not they agree with the draft.
His announcement was greeted at the Cairo rally, with the crowds chanting “The people support the president’s decision!”