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Egypt: Three political prisoners die in custody in three days

Egyptian Network for Human Rights says the deaths are a natural outcome of poor detention conditions in the country
Mohammed Zaki died on Saturday in Gamasa prison due to medical negligence, according to the ENHR (Supplied)

Three political prisoners died in custody in Egypt within two days this week as a result of medical negligence and poor conditions of detention, a rights group said on Wednesday.

According to the Egyptian Network for Human Rights (ENHR), the three men were opponents of the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and had been held arbitrarily.

'The death of the three prisoners is a natural result of the disastrous conditions inside Egyptian prisons'

Ahmed Attar, ENHR researcher

Mohammed Zaki, one of the deceased prisoners, died on 10 September in Gamasa prison due to a lack of medical care and his deteriorating health condition, ENHR said.

Zaki had been serving a 15-year prison sentence since 2014, after a military trial in connection with a case in which he was convicted of taking part in the burning of the Ismailia Courts Complex.

Another detainee, Hassan Abdullah Hassan, died on Monday at the age of 63 after suffering a heart attack inside Wadi Al-Natroun prison.

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A third detainee, Shaaban Fouad, also died on Monday in Shbein Elkoum deportations prison as a result of medical negligence, the rights group said.

"The death of the three prisoners is a natural result of the disastrous conditions inside Egyptian prisons and detention centres, which lack the minimum standards of safety and health care," Ahmed Attar, a researcher with ENHR, told Middle East Eye.

Attar condemned Egypt's Public Prosecution for its "failure to carry out its duties of oversight on prisons and hold accountable those responsible for violations against prisoners".

'Brutal conditions'

According to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, the total number of prisoners in Egypt in March 2021 was 120,000, with an estimated 65,000 political prisoners - at least 26,000 of them held in pre-trial detention.

Sisi came to power after ousting his democratically elected predecessor Mohamed Morsi in a military coup in 2013.

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Since then, the president has been accused by local and international rights groups of overseeing the country's worst crackdown on human rights in its modern history. 

Rights groups have accused Egyptian authorities of maintaining a policy of medical negligence, torture and ill-treatment of political prisoners, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of people since 2013.

Morsi himself suffered from poor health during his five years of detention, before collapsing in court and dying in June 2019. 

The UN high commissioner for human rights accused Egyptian authorities of "arbitrarily killing" the 67-year-old, who was kept in a "brutal conditions" in Tora prison.

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