Egypt Slams Political Exploitation of Morsi’s Death

Wednesday, 19 June, 2019 - 10:30
Cairo, Geneva - Mohamed Nabil Helmy and Asharq Al-Awsat

Egypt’s State Information Service (SIS) rejected Human Rights Watch (HRW) accusations regarding the circumstances surrounding the death of former President Mohammed Morsi on Monday.

It said the charges were “unfounded criminal accusations that have no relation whatsoever to human rights work,” describing them as “political exploitation.”

Morsi’s death brought local and international reactions, but SIS singled out comments by Executive Director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa Division Sarah Leah Whitson.

“It’s astonishing that Whitson posted her first tweet less than 30 minutes after the announcement of the deceased deposed president’s passing,” it said in a statement, adding that she prematurely assumed that Morsi had passed away due to medical negligence without providing any evidence or proof of her allegations.

The only verified information that has been provided regarding his death was the statement released by the Public Prosecutor, said SIS.

HRW last issued a report on Morsi’s health two years ago when it alleged violations of his right to access to proper healthcare. The claims contradicted an official report released at the time that said he was in good health and only suffered from diabetes, according to the SIS statement.

“Since then no reports or updates were provided by HRW on the health of the deceased deposed president, which proves that the allegations made by Whitson are nothing but unfounded lies.”

The family laid the body to rest Tuesday at the Al-Wafaa Wa al-Amal cemetery of Muslim Brotherhood spiritual guides in Nasr city, revealed his son Ahmad.

Morsi, 68, served as president for a year when he was elected in June 2012. He was ousted by popular protests against his regime and the Muslim Brotherhood. He died after suffering a heart attack while appearing in court.

He was in court for a hearing on charges of espionage emanating from contacts with Hamas, which had close ties to the Brotherhood.

The Criminal Court of Cairo has since adjourned the case to June 29.

He was serving a 20-year prison sentence for a conviction arising from the killing of protesters during demonstrations in 2012 and a life sentence for espionage in a case related to Qatar. He had denied the charges.

Morsi was also accused of plotting terrorist acts.

He was sentenced to death in May 2015 for his role in jailbreaks during the uprising that ousted his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak.

Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) issued a statement calling for a thorough independent inquiry into the circumstances of Morsi’s death, including the conditions of his detention.

OHCHR spokesman Rupert Colville announced that 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 noted that concerns have been raised regarding the conditions of 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.

“He also appears to have been held in prolonged solitary confinement. The investigation should therefore also encompass all aspects of the authorities’ treatment of Morsi to examine whether the conditions of his detention had an impact on his death,” read the statement.

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