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Ayman Hadhoud's family presses Egypt authorities for CCTV footage of him prior to his death

Egyptian economist, Ayman Hadhoud [@maitelsadany/Twitter]
Egyptian economist, Ayman Hadhoud [@maitelsadany/Twitter]

Ayman Hadhoud's family has filed a legal request for the release of CCTV camera footage taken of the prominent economist in the weeks leading up to his death.

The request comes as the State's version of events continues to conflict with what human rights organisations have pieced together about Hadhoud's final moments.

Hadhoud died on 5 March this year whilst in the custody of State security forces at Cairo's Abbassiya Psychiatry Hospital, though his family were not informed about his death until a month later, on 10 April.

His family have spoken out about how Egypt's security services stormed Hadhoud's house two months before he died, arrested him and then forcibly disappeared him.

The Public Prosecutor said that Hadhoud's death was caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure that caused a cardiac arrest, but the examining doctor refused to allow in independent observers.

The Egyptian government maintains that Hadhoud's death "was not suspicious", yet the family has never been allowed to read the autopsy report themselves, and maintain he has had no history of heart disease.

READ: Egypt issued highest number of death sentences worldwide in 2021, says Amnesty

The footage requested includes Qasr Al-Nil and Amiriya Police Station on 6 to 17 February and from the hospital and its forensics ward, according to Madr Masr.

A police officer initially told Hadhoud's family he was being detained at Amiriya Police Station, but when they enquired about his whereabouts, officials denied he was there.

Eventually, his family heard he had been transferred to Abbasiya Hospital, but they could not find evidence he was there. Doctors later said that security officials brought him in.

When the family discovered he was in the hospital, they made at least 15 requests to visit but they were denied on the grounds that had to get permission from the Prosecution. When they tried to do so, the Prosecution denied having any information about him.

On 10 April, an Interior Ministry statement maintained Hadhoud tried to break into an apartment in Zamalek, a neighbourhood in Cairo, on 6 February, which is why they took him to Abbasiya Hospital.

Part of the CCTV footage requested by the family is from the very street this Zamalek apartment is on.

Further contradictory records from the hospital allegedly claim that he tried to steal a car outside Cairo.

READ: A group of British MPs call for the release of Egyptian activist: Family fears for his health

The family's lawyer told Madr Masr that she had not been given access to files on either the robbery charges or the case investigating his death.

On 24 April, Ayman's brother, Omar, submitted a request to the Nasr City Prosecutor to file a civil claim against Abbasiya Hospital.

One of the biggest breakthroughs in the case was leaked photos of Hadhoud's body taken in the hospital morgue on 12 April and sent to The New York Times and DAWN, which depict wounds, bruising and discolouration on his face, head and arms.

The pictures corroborated an earlier investigation carried out by Amnesty International that found Hadhoud had been tortured, or otherwise ill-treated before his death.

Amnesty spoke to forensic pathologist, Derrick Pounder, who examined the photos and concluded Hadhoud had been repeatedly injured before his death. Two eyewitnesses report having seen injuries on his body the day before the autopsy.

Political activists have compared Ayman's death with that of Giulio Regeni and Khaled Said. Italian student, Regeni's case became a global symbol for the plight of political prisoners who are systematically tortured, after his body was found by the side of a road in Egypt in 2016.

Four Egyptian security force members have been accused of his kidnapping, torture and killing though not before the Egyptian authorities tried to blame an armed gang.

Security services announced they had killed five people in an armed confrontation after finding Regeni's personal belongings at their house.

READ: Aisha Al-Shater's health deteriorates in Egypt prison

Egyptian computer programming graduate, Khaled Said, became a symbol of police brutality in Egypt after images of his battered corpse were shared widely online after police beat him to death in the northern city of Alexandria in 2010.

An official account of his death said he was suspected of being in possession of drugs and that he had been convicted in three separate criminal cases, which was later disproved.

Since the 2013 coup, police impunity and brutality has escalated. In 2018 and 2020, the killing of young men by the police sparked protests and an urgent call for justice.

Yet, despite the international attention they have received, deaths in State custody continue. Hadhoud is the fifth prisoner to die this year, and one of more than 1,000 since the 2013 coup, according to DAWN's figures.

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