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Morsi's death was probably an 'arbitrary assassination with the consent of the state'

Late former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi sits behind bars during his trail on 21 March 2016 [Stranger/Apaimages]
Late former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi sits behind bars during his trail on 21 March 2016 [Stranger/Apaimages]

A statement signed by Agnes Kalamar, the UN Special Rapporteur on Arbitrary Executions, confirmed that Egypt's late President Mohamed Morsi, 67, was held in brutal conditions in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day; was forced to sleep on a concrete floor; and was denied treatment for diabetes and high blood pressure. Kalamar concluded this month that Morsi's death, "after living under these circumstances, could amount to an arbitrary assassination with the consent of the state."

Britain's Independent accused the Egyptian security forces of killing the president: "… friends and colleagues say police failed to administer first aid fast enough when he collapsed during a hearing in Cairo on Monday [17 June 2019]. Prison guards allegedly left the 67-year-old Muslim Brotherhood leader 'slumped on the floor' of his courtroom cage for more than 20 minutes, despite other defendants calling for help."

Such international interest in investigating the murder of President Morsi is touching, but was the UN waiting for his death before issuing a statement? Has it undermined Morsi's case by not defending his rights as a democratically-elected president who was ousted, but being content with defending his rights as a regular prisoner? And when did the UN do this? Only after his death.

It is worth taking a look at the history of Morsi's fatal, arbitrary detention by the Egyptian coup authorities, as well as the demands made by the late president and his family, none of which, apparently, reached the ears of the UN until the day he died.

Sisi's fragile dictatorship

On 23 August, 2017, Morsi's family issued a statement condemning the abuses he had endured since the coup on 3 July, 2013, when he was imprisoned at a military base for four months. His family denounced the silence of human rights organisations and the double standards of the international community, which has long promoted democracy but has failed to take any real interest in the case.

It is well known that Morsi rejected the military coup and all subsequent actions taken by the coup authorities, including the farcical political trials on totally fabricated charges. He actually called for a secret hearing in the presence of Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, former Defence Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and former Chief of Staff Sami Annan, to talk about serious issues affecting Egypt's national security. The court bodies that were considering these cases refused the request on more than one occasion.

In four years in detention, Morsi's family was only allowed to visit him twice, with a period of three and a half years between the two visits. Each visit lasted just half an hour. What's more, his defence team was prohibited from communicating with him from January 2014.

Not only was the ousted President banned from having newspapers, books and personal belongings in his cell, but he also complained that he was locked in a glass cage and that the meals he was provided with were a crime in their own right. His family say that there were five occasions when these complaints were made, and all are thoroughly documented.

On 7 June, 2017, Morsi told the court that he had suffered two diabetes-induced comas at the detention facility and was not seen by a doctor. He asked to be transferred to a private medical centre at his own expense to have the necessary medical examinations, and then asked his defence team to file a report with the Attorney General. This was submitted on the following day.

During their second visit to see him, Morsi told his wife and daughter — his sons were not allowed to visit him — that he had asked to change his glasses 12 months earlier but the security team did not respond to his request. In July 2017, he also asked to have access to his own insulin and blood glucose monitor. The security team responded this time, but refused the request.

UN: Egypt prison conditions may have led to Morsi's death

On 13 November, 2017, the former President complained of deliberate medical negligence which threatened his life. He also pointed out that he was being deliberately excluded from his own trial by being placed in a glass cage inside a metal frame from which he could see nobody else. It was, Morsi alleged, an attempt to kill his morale. Such treatment in court was a violation of the constitutional and legal rules governing the Egyptian judicial system in the case of a trial of the President of the Republic.

Two days later, the Muslim Brotherhood issued a statement confirming the invalidity of Morsi's trial and said that the violations reported by the President were to be regarded as a complaint filed by the Brotherhood to global public opinion, the UN, international human rights and legal organisations, and all other parties concerned with human rights. The movement held the military coup authorities fully responsible for the safety and life of the President and all of the other political detainees in Egypt.

Sources told Al Jazeera what Morsi said during the last moments of his life. He hadn't been able to see what was going on in the courtroom, said the dying President. Moreover, the court-appointed lawyer did not have any information with which to defend him.

The official website of the Freedom and Justice Party carried a statement of some of Morsi's last statements: he insisted that he was being killed deliberately by the coup authorities; that his health was deteriorating; and that he fainted several times a week without receiving any medical treatment. Morsi asked the court to allow him to meet with his defence team because he wanted to share something with the Egyptian people and communicate with his team on important and potentially dangerous matters. The court cut the sound from his cage and prevented him from speaking. He then fainted and died.

Egypt: Brotherhood calls for UN hold 'Morsi's murderers' to account

Associated Press reported the same story, quoting a legal source, saying that Morsi asked to speak during his trial for espionage (with the State of Qatar) and said that he spoke for 20 minutes, stressing that he had many secrets. The President apparently said that if he revealed these secrets he would be released, but that he wouldn't because to do so would damage Egypt's national security. Minutes later, he collapsed in his glass cage.

In his article in Middle East Eye on 18 June this year, journalist David Hearst said, "There will only be two forces that profit from his death: Sisi and the military regime around him, and the Islamic State (IS) group."

I disagree. In my opinion, Morsi was killed by every state that failed to condemn the murder of a nascent democracy and every state whose rejection of the election of a president with an Islamic background was greater than its support for laying the foundations for an era of freedom.

President Mohamed Morsi was killed by the world that accepted the man who staged a coup to rule Egypt in order to get his rewards at the expense of the youth who died so that their country could live. The condemnation that the UN has issued is not sympathetic to the fate of the betrayed elected president as much as it is a manipulation of the event in the context of a desire to revolutionise the Egyptian people to complete the coup cycle with a new revolution that would make them forget the period between 2012 and 2019. This aims to alter the course of the January Revolution, which was not expected to end with the election of a state president from the Muslim Brotherhood.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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