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Mohammed Ghamry becomes 8th Egyptian to die in detention this month

Inmates are seen inside an Egyptian prison on 19 November 2019 [MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Images]
Inmates are seen inside an Egyptian prison on 19 November 2019 [MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Images]

Mohammed Khater Ghamry has become the eighth person to die in an Egyptian detention centre this month after he was denied critical medical care for suspected coronavirus.

The Shehab Centre for Human Rights have said Mohammed, who was being held in Belbeis Police Station, had a high temperature and warned that other cellmates have similar symptoms.

Earlier this month the Geneva-based Committee for Justice (CFJ) reported that another detainee at Belbeis Police Station had died from suspected coronavirus.

At the time, CFJ reported that at least four detainees were suffering from covid symptoms including respiratory distress and high temperature, indicating prison authorities are not taking appropriate measures to protect or test them.

Detainee Ibrahim Mohamed Al-Daleel Okasha also died earlier this month in a hospital in Sharqiyah Governorate after being transferred there from Hahya Police Station. Ibrahim had a high temperature, a severe cough and suffered severe respiratory distress.

CFJ said authorities have failed to reveal the true cause of his death.

On 2 May Egyptian filmmaker Shady Habash died in Tora Prison after his health deteriorated and he was not given medical help.

READ: Egypt pardons former police officer who killed Lebanon singer

The circumstances under which these detainees died contrasts starkly with authorities’ decision to release 3,000 prisoners this weekend under an Eid presidential pardon, including those that had been jailed for theft, prostitution and fraud.

Among those released was former policeman Mohsen Al-Sukkari who killed Lebanese pop singer Suzanne Tamim in 2008 for $2 million.

The families of political prisoners were devastated to find that their loved ones were not on the list and that criminals were released instead.

Politicians from across the world have been putting pressure on the regime to release Egypt’s 60,000 political prisoners to ease overcrowding amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Detainees are kept in overcrowded cells, have little access to sunlight and fresh air and often have to share hygiene tools. Since the start of the covid pandemic they have been denied visits from lawyers and family members.

At the beginning of May, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Egypt to keep American citizens in prison safe during the pandemic.

In March Ilhan Omar and Rashia Tlaib were among eight members of Congress who wrote a letter to the US-Egypt ambassador to draw attention to the dire plight of Egyptian political prisoners.

In January Mustafa Kassem became the first American citizen to die in Egyptian prison from medical negligence.

On Wednesday Egypt’s Health Ministry reported 910 new coronavirus infections, its highest single day figure recorded so far since it announced its first case on 14 February.

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