Egypt Opens Jail After UN Report On Inmate Morsi’s Death

A picture taken during a guided tour organized by the Egypt’s State Information Service on November 11, 2019, shows an inmate working at a metalsmithing workshop in Tora prison in the Egyptian capital Cairo.
Mohamed el-Shahed / AFP

 

Egyptian authorities Monday opened up Tora prison in Cairo for a media tour, following a UN report on the “brutal” conditions in which jailed ex-president Mohamed Morsi was held before his death.

In a rare tour of the sprawling jail complex, journalists were shown an exhibition of furniture made by inmates, a farm with cows and ostriches, and a brief football match between prisoners.

The guided tour comes ahead of a mission to Geneva by Egyptian officials for a review on Wednesday before the United Nations Human Rights Council.

It was arranged in response to a stinging review last week by an independent panel of UN experts that blasted conditions in Tora.

The experts said the death of ousted Islamist president Morsi, who was held in Tora for five years, could amount to a “state-sanctioned arbitrary killing”.

The former president died in June after collapsing in a Cairo courtroom while on trial.

“Morsi was held in conditions that can only be described as brutal, particularly during his five-year detention in the Tora prison complex,” the experts said in a statement.

His death “after enduring those conditions could amount to a state-sanctioned arbitrary killing”, the experts added. They also warned that thousands are at risk of death in the same prison.

On the media tour, abuse charges in Tora were dismissed by politicians and personalities that included for example retired ex-national football goalkeeper turned television pundit Ahmed Shobeir.

“This prison is more of a seaside resort now compared to what it used to be,” Mostafa Bakry, a pro-Sisi parliamentarian, contended.

He told AFP that inmates were treated with dignity, pointing to a newly-mowed football pitch.

On documented allegations of abuse, Bakry said these were foreign-originated charges designed to sow chaos, echoing the common response of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The former head of the army turned president led the military’s ouster of Morsi in 2013.

“Inmates are not sitting in their cells. They can play soccer or exercise and there are a lot of activities for them,” said Alaa Abed, a former policeman and current head of parliament’s human rights committee.

Other senior officials declined to speak on the record during the tour, while AFP was prevented from talking directly with inmates.

The family of prominent human rights lawyer Mohamed el-Baqer, who was detained in September, said on social media they were prevented from seeing him Monday because of the media tour.

Rights groups have regularly accused Egyptian authorities of severe violations including torture, overcrowding and medical negligence in jails.

Some 4,000 people, including lawyers, activists, professors and journalists, were detained in a wave of arrests following rare anti-Sisi protests in September, according to local rights groups.

Egypt Accuses UN Of Trying To Politicise Morsi’s Death

Ex-Egyptian President Morsi

 

Egypt accused the United Nations on Wednesday of seeking to “politicise” the death of the country’s first democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi by calling for an “independent inquiry”.

Foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said he condemned “in the strongest terms” the call by the spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, for an independent investigation into Morsi’s death during a court hearing on Monday.

Hafez said it was a “deliberate attempt to politicise a case of natural death.”

Colville called Tuesday for a probe into whether the conditions Morsi faced during his nearly six years in custody had contributed to his death.

READ ALSO: Egyptian Ex-President Morsi Was Killed, Says Erdogan

“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,” he said.

“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,” Colville added.

He 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.”

Morsi was toppled by then army chief, now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in 2013 after a single divisive year in power. He was later charged with an array of offences including espionage.

Since his ouster, authorities have waged an ongoing crackdown on dissent of all kinds that has seen thousands of Brotherhood supporters jailed and hundreds facing death sentences.

A group of British parliamentarians in March 2018 warned Morsi’s detention conditions, particularly inadequate treatment for his diabetes and liver disease, could trigger “premature death”.

Thousands In Istanbul Pray For Former Egyptian President Morsi

A woman holds a picture of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi as people prays during a symbolic funeral on June 18,2019 in front of the embassy in Ankara./ AFP

 

Thousands joined in prayer in Istanbul on Tuesday for former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi who died the previous day after collapsing during a trial hearing in a Cairo court.

The prayers, called by Turkey’s religious authority Diyanet, took place in the city’s Fatih mosque. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a close ally of Morsi, is due to attend afternoon prayers there.

READ ALSO: Ex-Egyptian President Morsi Buried In Cairo

Ankara’s relations with Cairo deteriorated after the Egyptian military, then led by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, ousted Morsi in 2013. Sisi then became president.

Erdogan on Monday called Morsi a “martyr” and blamed Egypt’s “tyrants” for his death.

Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president in 2012 after the Arab Spring uprisings, was overthrown after a turbulent year in power.

He was buried on Tuesday, as rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch called for an independent probe into the causes of his death.

Egypt Court Upholds Life Sentence For Ex-President Morsi

File Photo: Egypt Ex-President, Mohamed Morsi.

A top Egyptian court has on Saturday upheld a life sentence for ousted Islamist President, Mohamed Morsi in a case revolving around state documents leaked to Qatar, a judicial official said.

The Court of Cassation ruling, which is final, overthrew a 15-year sentence for Morsi on charges of stealing the documents, handed during the initial sentencing.

But it upheld a life sentence — 25 years in prison in Egypt — on the charge of leading an illegal organisation, his lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsud told AFP.

The ruling came after lawyers appealed the initial 2016 sentencing.

The court also upheld death sentences for three other defendants, a life sentence and a 15-year sentence for two others.

The trial hinged on accusations that the defendants had passed on state secrets to Qatar, an ally of Morsi’s Islamist government that has denounced his 2013 overthrow by the military.

Qatar has denied the charges.

Hundreds of Morsi supporters were killed during protests following his ouster. Thousands of others were detained in a crackdown that was later expanded to include leftist and liberal dissidents.

Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood has been blacklisted as a terrorist group.

AFP

EGYPT UPRISING: Public Opinion Can’t Be Unconstitutional In Democracy

A lecturer of International Law at the University of Lagos, Edefe Ojomo, while discussing African Union’s (AU) rationale for suspending Egypt following the removal of President Morsi, argued the that consent of many Egyptians to the military intervention should not be regarded as unconstitutional.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, she said that asides from military coups, a revolution as seen in Egypt could also be unconstitutional, by AU standards.

She however explained that if the “constitution gets its backing from the people, then obviously public opinion and public will can’t be unconstitutional.”

She attributed the success of 20 million signatories to the petition against the Morsi led administration to dissatisfaction by the people including those who had initially voted the ousted President into power.

She said the democracy, as interpreted by Egyptians, means the ‘people’s voice”

The uprising which led to the Egyptian Army ousting President Mohammed Morsi from power barely a year after being elected into power, was caused by people’s dissatisfaction.

Ojomo noted that the crisis, which involves international politics,  domestic politics and domestic economy would not spiral into a civil war.

“People don’t think it will spiral into a civil war because the Egyptian army is strong enough to maintain ‘some calm and some peace’.”

She disagreed with claims that external influences were involved in the uprising adding that “it is insulting to call a popular uprising a sort of manipulation” by outsiders.

She regarded it as a political manner of interpreting such problems.

Mixed reactions thrill Egypt’s election

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!”