Mohamed Morsi buried in Cairo
Egypt’s first democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi was buried yesterday as calls mounted for an independent investigation into the causes of his death after he collapsed in a Cairo courtroom. The Islamist leader, who was overthrown in 2013 after a year of divisive rule and later charged with espionage, was buried at a cemetery in eastern Cairo’s Medinat Nasr, one of his lawyers said. Abdel Moneim Abdel Maksoud said family members had washed Morsi’s body and prayed the last rites early Tuesday morning at the Leeman Tora Hospital.
The prosecutor general’s office said the 67-year-old leader had collapsed and “died as he attended a hearing” in a retrial hearing Monday over alleged collaboration with foreign powers and militant groups. Abdel Maksoud said only around 10 family members and close Morsi confidants were present, including himself. A reporter saw a handful of mourners entering the cemetery complex, accompanied by police officers, but journalists were prevented from entering the site.
The attorney general’s office said Morsi, who appeared “animated”, had addressed the court Monday for five minutes before falling to the ground inside the defendants’ cage. Another of Morsi’s lawyers, Osama El Helw, said other defendants had started banging loudly on the glass, “screaming loudly that Morsi had died”. The attorney general said he had been “transported immediately to the hospital”, where medics pronounced him dead, a version of events confirmed by a judicial source.
Since Morsi’s overthrow on July 3, 2013, his former defence minister, now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has waged an ongoing crackdown that has seen thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters jailed and hundreds facing death sentences. Morsi last saw his family in September 2018. A month later, one of his sons, Abdallah, was arrested. Abdel Maksoud was the last member of his defence team to see him, in November 2017.
A group of British parliamentarians in March 2018 warned that his detention conditions had not met international standards and could lead to his “premature death”. Other Brotherhood leaders have also died in custody. He spent just one turbulent year in office after the 2011 uprising, before being toppled by the military after millions took to the streets demanding his resignation. He has been in prison since his ouster, on trial on charges including for spying for Iran, Qatar and militant groups such as Hamas.
Morsi was also accused of plotting terrorist acts. He was sentenced to death in May 2015 for his role in jailbreaks during the uprising that ousted his predecessor, longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Morsi’s turbulent rule was marked by widening schisms in Egyptian society, a crippling economic crisis and often-deadly opposition protests.