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Egypt prisoner on pre-trial detention dies in police station after medical neglect

February 1, 2023 at 11:12 am

Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abdel Shakour Abouzied (C), also known as Shawkan, is seen inside a soundproof glass dock during his trial in the capital Cairo on July 28, 2018. [Photo credit should read KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]

An Egyptian prisoner has died in Zagazig Police Station due to the conditions of his detention, including a lack of adequate medical attention.

According to Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), Sameh Tolba Saleh, 53, had already completed his two-year period on remand, the maximum amount of time prisoners can be held in pretrial detention according to Egyptian law.

Saleh had a heart condition which deteriorated whilst he was in detention.

A fridge and air conditioning technician from the village of Behnbay in Sharkia Governorate, he is the first person to die in Egypt in detention since the start of the year.

From July 2022 until now, the Committee for Justice has recorded that ten detainees have died in detention centres across Egypt.

In mid-November, two prisoners at Badr Prison died within 24 hours of one another. Magdy Al-Shabrawi died from kidney failure exacerbated by the conditions of his detention and the lack of appropriate medical care.

Prisoners have died after going on hunger strike to protest their detention, including Alaa Al-Salami who died in November after authorities did not provide him with adequate medical care.

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Since 2013, 1,163 people have died in detention centres, according to the CPJ, and 62 throughout 2021.

There are some 65,000 political prisoners in Egypt, at least 26,000 of whom are held on pre-trial detention. They are systematically tortured and denied medical care, according to human rights groups. Meaningful and transparent investigations rarely follow their deaths.

Over the weekend two Egyptian TikTokers were arrested and ordered into pre-trial detention after shooting a parody of a prison visit. Basma Hegazi and Mohamed Hosam were accused of spreading false news and belonging to a terror group.

Amnesty International has said that indefinite pre-trial detention is used as a punitive measure against political opponents and human rights defenders.

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