Wednesday 23 October 2019

Ex-Egyptian leader Morsi collapses and dies in court

Trial: Mohammed Morsi addressed the court just before he collapsed. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images
Trial: Mohammed Morsi addressed the court just before he collapsed. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

Emile Laurac

Egypt's former president Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader who rose to office in the country's first free elections in 2012 and was ousted a year later by the military, has collapsed in court during a trial and died.

The 67-year-old had just addressed the court, speaking from a glass cage he was kept in during sessions and warning he had "many secrets" he could reveal. A few minutes afterwards he collapsed. State TV said Mr Morsi died before he could be taken to hospital.

Mr Morsi has been in prison undergoing multiple trials since the military ousted him in July 2013 and launched a crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists.

Yesterday's session was part of a retrial held in Cairo's Tura Prison on charges of espionage with the Palestinian Hamas militant group.

Mr Morsi's son Ahmed confirmed the death of his father in a Facebook post.

Mohammed Sudan, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood in London, described Mr Morsi's death as "premeditated murder", saying the former president was banned from receiving medicine or visits and there was little information about his health.

"He has been placed behind a glass cage. No one can hear him or know what is happening to him. He hasn't received any visits for nearly a year. He complained before that he doesn't get his medicine. This is premeditated murder. This is slow death."

A judicial official said Mr Morsi had asked to speak to the court during the session.

The judge permitted it, and Mr Morsi gave a speech saying he had "many secrets" which, if he told them, would see his release, but added he was not telling them because it would harm national security.

Mr Morsi was a long-time senior figure in Egypt's most powerful Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood. He was elected in 2012 in Egypt's first free election, a year after the Arab Spring uprising ousted Egypt's long-time authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak. His Muslim Brotherhood also held a majority in parliament.

The military, led by then defence minister Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, ousted Mr Morsi after massive protests against the Brotherhood's domination.

Mr El-Sissi was subsequently elected president and has since waged a crackdown on Islamists and other opponents. Egypt's government has declared the Brotherhood a terrorist organisation and largely crushed it.

Tens of thousands of Egyptians have been arrested since 2013, mainly Islamists but also secular activists behind the 2011 uprising.

Mr Morsi had been sentenced to 20 years after being convicted of ordering Brotherhood members to break up a protest against him, resulting in deaths. An earlier death sentence was overturned.

Irish Independent

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