Creating new perspectives since 2009

Fourth prisoner dies of medical negligence in Egypt 

February 24, 2020 at 12:49 pm

Prisoners are seen during a court case in Cairo on 28 July 2018 [Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images]

Ahmed Abdel Moneim Qandil, 35, has become the fourth person to die in an Egyptian prison this month from medical negligence.

Qandil, a social and psychological education specialist with two children, who had previously been detained in 2015, received a phone call on 14 January from a national security officer asking him to attend a routine follow-up, as he had done several times before.

But this time, instead of returning home from the meeting, he disappeared for five days before appearing in front of the public prosecutor, who ordered that he be detained for 15 days pending investigation. He was sent to Fayoum Prison.

Qandil already suffered from ill heath whilst in prison, aggravated by the smoke and the drugs which were being taken inside the cells, which notoriously have little ventilation.

READ: Egyptian court acquits Mubarak’s sons of illicit share trading

He was eventually taken to hospital and when he returned was held in a room for five days without food, medicine or water.

Last Thursday his health deteriorated further and he died.

Qandil’s death comes amid several campaigns designed to warn Egyptian authorities and the international community of deteriorating conditions inside Egyptian prisons.

In January, under the Arabic hashtags “the cold cells” and “the cold is a scorpion’s sting”, activists posted about how prison guards banned blankets, heaters and warm clothing from entering the prison, leaving detainees suffering in the cold which exacerbated existing medical conditions.

In January dual US-Egypt citizen Mustafa Kassem became the first American to die in Egypt’s prisons after being kept in pre-trial detention in Tora Prison for five years and then being sentenced in a mass trial.

Kassem, who was a New York taxi driver, had diabetes and a heart ailment and died of heart failure after being denied adequate medical care.

He had been on hunger strike protesting against his unfair trial since September 2019 and had recently resorted to a thirst strike.

READ: Brit jailed for sexual assault in Egypt after patting security guard on the back

Not long after Kassem died, journalist Mahmoud Abdel Majid Mahmoud passed away inside the Scorpion Prison after he was denied medical care and he suffered from the cold and hunger.

Less than a week after Mahmoud died, political prisoner Alaa El-Din Saad, 56, died inside Burj Al-Arab Prison after being denied medical care.

There have been several high profile cases of medical negligence. In June last year former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fatouh suffered two heart attacks in 24 hours.

“This is the result of inhumane conditions in prison and his deliberate mistreatment,” his son Ahmed Aboul Fotouh said at the time. “My father could die at any moment.”

According to the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies 917 prisoners died in Egypt since June 2013, 677 of medical negligence and 136 from torture.