Egypt’s First Democratically Elected President, Mohammad Morsi, Suddenly Dies in Court
“Former President Morsy’s death followed years of government mistreatment, prolonged solitary confinement, inadequate medical care, and deprivation of family visits and access to lawyers.”
Shortly after having appeared before court in the Egyptian capital of Cairo, former Egyptian president, Mohammad Morsi, died suddenly on Monday, Egyptian state media reported.
Morsi, 67, was the first democratically elected president of modern Egypt in 2012, one year after the popular Egyptian revolution of January forced the 30-year-reign of Egyptian President Mohammad Hosni Mubarak to quit office.
Egypt’s military, lead by now current president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, then toppled Morsi, who was linked with the now-outlawed Islamic Brotherhood, in 2013. The military accused him of collaborating with the Gulf state of Qatar and the Palestinian Islamist Hamas party, which has ruled the nearby Gaza Strip since 2007.
In late June 2013, el-Sisi ordered a harsh crackdown on Islamic Brotherhood protesters in Cairo, leading to the deaths of more than 400. El-Sisi also declared the group a terrorist group and arrested Morsi and other leaders and supporters of the group.
Morsi Had ‘Many Secrets’ to Reveal
The Associated Press reported that a judicial official said that Morsi spoke to the jury from a glass cage for several minutes before he lost consciousness and was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, quoted Morsi as saying he had “many secrets” he could reveal before he collapsed inside the cage.
Morsi’s lawyer, Kamal Mandour, told the Associated Press that Morsi demanded a special tribunal and vehemently reminded Monday’s court session that he was the legitimate president.
Poor Jail Conditions
The outlawed Freedom and Justice Party, an organ of the Islamic Brotherhood, said in a statement on Monday that Morsi recently suffered from repeated fainting spells in jail and that his health has worsened due to poor jail conditions. Morsi was known to have diabetes and kidney problems.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) described Morsi’s death as terrible but said the death was predictable since he endured medical negligence, along with many other prison inmates of the Islamic Brotherhood. HRW called for an investigation by the United Nations into Morsi’s death.
“Former President Morsy’s death followed years of government mistreatment, prolonged solitary confinement, inadequate medical care, and deprivation of family visits and access to lawyers,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “At the very least, the Egyptian government committed grave abuses against Morsy by denying him prisoners’ rights that met minimum standards.”
Throughout the last six years of his imprisonment, Egyptian authorities allowed Morsi few family visits and only with military officials present, the last of which was in late 2018.
Since being jailed in 2013, Morsi has faced several trials, the last of which was on Monday. In previous trials, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Reaction to Morsi’s Death
Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, mourned the loss of Morsi and described him as a martyr. During Morsi’s short-lived rule, Turkey maintained close ties with Morsi’s regime.
On social media news of Morsi’s death went viral, particularly in the Gaza Strip, with which the Morsi’s regime had strong ties. Many Palestinians in Gaza mourned Morsi, re-posting famous quotes the man had said about Gaza.
Journalist and activist, Eman Baroud, wrote on her Facebook page, “Mr. President, Mohammad Morsi is eventually free. Your justice, my Lord.” Many other social media activists replaced their profile photos with portraits of Morsi.
1. Mr. Morsi was the first democratically-elected President of Egypt following the 2011 Arab Spring revolution, whose term was abruptly ended after 12 months. pic.twitter.com/BPaqexmSM2
— Dr Wan Azizah Ismail (@drwanazizah) June 18, 2019
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) June 18, 2019
Not surprising that the Egyptian government under Pres Sisi would let Mohamed Morsi die of untreated illness, given that it shot and killed 817 of his followers in Rabaa Square in a mere 12 hours in 2014. https://t.co/d2FFCOQPw4 pic.twitter.com/bWRyW7U7k0
— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) June 18, 2019