Leading Brotherhood figure dies, prison authorities accused of medical negligence

Leading Muslim Brotherhood figure and former parliamentarian Farid Ismail died on Wednesday night after slipping into a hepatic coma for several days, the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party declared late Wednesday. Ismail had been imprisoned since 2013 and was sentenced to seven years on charges of rioting and protesting.

Ismail’s family and the Muslim Brotherhood officially accused prison authorities of negligence, and of deliberately leaving the health of the deceased leader to deteriorate without proper medical care.

Yet, the Interior Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that Ismail, 58, passed away in Al-Manial University Hospital in Cairo, where he was being treated for hepatitis C and liver issues.

Ismail was originally incarcerated in Tora Prison in Cairo, but was transferred four days ago to Zagazig Prison to attend a trial session at the Belbees Criminal Court. However, he was unable to attend due to his deteriorating health condition, and was instead transferred to Zagazig Prison Hospital. After the Zagazig Prison Authority allegedly rejected to transfer him to a proper hospital, he was again transferred to the Tora Prison Hospital.

Ismail’s family launched a social media campaign urging authorities and rights organizations to save his life. His son, Mohamed Ismail, said in a statement on his Facebook page on Sunday that the family visited Ismail in Zagazig Prison Hospital and discovered that his father had had a stroke. The family confirmed that prison authorities refused to transfer him to another hospital, even though the prison’s hospital is not qualified to host critical cases.

On Sunday, Ismail’s son said in another statement that prison authorities also refused to provide him with proper medical care, calling the authorities’ feeble attempts to treat him “premeditated murder.”

“He is being transferred from a bad hospital to a worse one. Till now, there is no clear diagnosis for his case given the lack of proper medical preparation. This is a country without rights, the right to medication is the least right [someone has],” his son said.

Ismail’s family claims that he was left in his prison cell for a week in a partial coma without being admitted to hospital, before he was transferred to Zagazig. Mada Masr could not confirm these claims as Prison Authority officials were not available for comment.

Brotherhood Spokesperson Mohamed Montaser said in a statement that retribution for Ismail will remain a duty for all the group’s members.

Ismail was member of FJP’s executive office and head of the Defense and National Security committee in the parliament that was dissolved in 2012. During his arrest in 2013, Ismail told police officers who arrested him that he was one of those who designed a new police law giving police more authorities and privileges.

The case of Ismail’s death is not the first of its kind. In November 2014, leading Brotherhood figure and Ain Shams University professor Tarek al-Ghandour also died from esophageal bleeding when prison authorities were allegedly negligent toward his medical state. In the same month, Brotherhood leader Abu Bakr al-Qady died in Qena Prison after he was allegedly denied medical care while he suffered from cancer.

In September 2013, Brotherhood leader Safwat Khalil also died in his prison cell in Mansoura after his health condition deteriorated. He also had been battling cancer. His family leveled similar accusations against authorities for his death.

In a report released on January, the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) documented nine cases of deaths while in custody. While some of these cases were deaths resulting from torture, others died either because they were kept in severely overcrowded prison cells or were denied proper medical treatment.

“Egypt’s prisons and police stations are bursting at the seams with opposition supporters rounded up by the authorities,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East and North Africa director. “People are being held in grossly overcrowded and inhumane conditions, and the mounting death toll is the wholly predictable consequence.”


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