Egypt’s former President Mohamed Morsi has died after collapsing while attending a court session in the capital Cairo.
Mr. Morsi was Egypt’s first democratically elected president. He had suffered from neglect during the period in which he was in prison since 2013 when he was overthrown according to his family.
According the public prosecutor, Morsi, 67, collapsed while in the defendants’ cage in the court room and he was pronounced dead shortly after reaching hospital on Monday evening. The prosecutor added that no apparent recent injuries were found on his body according to the medical report.
“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 the hospital.” Said a presenter on Egypt’s State TV.
Abdullah Mohamed Morsi, the son to the former president told reporters that the family did not know where Morsi’s body had been kept, adding that the authorities had denied Morsi’s family a chance to bury him at their cemetery.
Morsi’s family said that he had a record of health complications including diabetes, liver and kidney diseases and this was worsened by medical neglect and the poor conditions in jail he suffered during his imprisonment.
Since he was arrested and detained in 2013, there have been various reports about Morsi’s mistreatment and torture. Activists demanded on Monday that his death be investigated independently of the authorities in Egypt, mentioning systematic isolation and mistreatment of political detainees.
According to the Human Rights, the news of Morsi’s death is “terrible” but entirely “predictable” and the group blamed the government for the “failure to allow him medical care”.
“The government of Egypt today bears responsibility for his death, given their failure to provide him with adequate medical care or basic prisoner rights”, the group said in a statement to Qatar news agency Aljazeera.
Morsi’s short term presidency
Morsi became Egypt’s first democratically elected president after he was voted into power in 2012 following the overthrow of former leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011 during the Arab Spring that ended his 30-year rule.
He was overthrown in July 2013 just after one year of his reign through a military coup that was led by current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi following mass protests against Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, he was immediately arrested.
The Moslem Brotherhood organization to which Morsi belonged has since been outlawed.
By the time of his death, Morsi had been in jail for nearly six years facing at least six trials and he had been sentenced to 20 years in prison for charges involving killing of protesters in 2012. He had been also given a life sentence though it was later overturned in 2016 in a case related to the Gulf state of Qatar.
Other charges against Morsi included involvement in terrorism, insulting the judiciary and jailbreak though his supporters claim that all these charges were politically motivated.
Since his imprisonment in 2013, Morsi had been visited only 3 times, the first was in November 2013, then in June 2017 his wife and daughter were allowed to see him and the last was a family visit in September 2018 in the presence of security forces.
Reaction to Morsi’s death
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was the first president to pay tribute to Morsi and he called the former leader a “martyr.”
“May Allah rest our brother Morsi, our martyr’s soul in peace,” Erdogan said.
Morsi buried on Tuesday
After his death on Monday, his lawyer told the AFP news agency that Morsi had been buried in the east of the capital Cairo early on Tuesday morning in the presence of his family.
Who was Morsi
Morsi was born in 1951 in the village of El-Adwah. He attended Cairo University and studied engineering in the 1970s and later moved to the United States for a PHD.
Morsi was chosen as the presidential candidate for the 2012 election after the preferred candidate of the movement had pulled out forcefully.
He was accused of masterminding an Islamic coup and mismanagement of the economy during his turbulent year in office. Consequently, Morsi increasingly faced public opposition as millions of anti-government protesters took to the streets across the country on 30 June 2013, a day marking his first anniversary after taking office.
On 3 July 2013, Morsi was arrested and detained by the army led by current President Sisi, who also suspended the constitution and announced interim government ahead of new elections.
In 2014, army chief Mr. Sisi was elected president for a four-year term and he was re-elected last year though rights groups described the polls as “farcical”.
Since the political turmoil in 2011, hundreds of people have been killed in Egypt while thousands of others have been arrested and detained.