19-year-old prisoner dies in Alexandria hospital
Courtesy: Borg al-Arab Hospital

Karim Medhat, a prisoner at Borg al-Arab prison who suffered from a brain tumor and deteriorating health conditions over the last ten days, died on Thursday morning, his lawyer Mohamed Hafez told Mada Masr.

Medhat’s family has formally accused the doctor at Borg al-Arab Prison’s hospital and the prison administration of extreme medical negligence and failing to carry out their duties to protect the prisoner’s health, Hafez said.

The nineteen-year-old Medhat was denied proper medical treatment by Borg al-Arab prison hospital earlier in April. His lawyer had previously said that Medhat’s health conditions had been deteriorating since early March, when he lost half his body weight and eventually fell into a coma in early April.

The prison hospital, however, did not consider his critical condition and returned him back to his cell, where he lost consciousness. Later, he was transferred to Borg al-Arab General Hospital where he was diagnosed with a brain tumor which caused various blood clots in his brain, according to a medical report received by Mada Masr.

Medhat’s family had submitted a request to the prosecution to transfer the patient to al-Raml University Hospital, as Borg al-Arab General Hospital is not equipped to treat his condition. Medhat was already clinically-dead at this time. Medhat was transferred to al-Raml University Hospital on April 4, where he died after his condition severely deteriorated.

Medhat was convicted and sentenced to two years in front of a military court last November as part of a group case, where defendants were charged of illegally gathering, protesting, damaging a car, and the attempted murder of a military office on the outskirts of Alexandria.

Authorities have been repeatedly blamed for deteriorating conditions of prisons, where prisoners lack access to medical treatment, proper nutrition and basic hygiene. A number of prisoners’ families, especially those involved in politically-motivated cases, have complained of worsening prison conditions and maltreatment by prison authorities.

Recently, the Interior Ministry agreed to transfer prisoner Ahmed al-Khateeb to a private hospital for medical treatment after he was diagnosed with the rare visceral leishmaniasis infection. Khateeb’s family had relentlessly called for the release of their son on health grounds.

Reports released by rights organizations have increasingly referred to cases of detainees experiencing serious medical negligence by prison authorities. The rising number of deaths inside jails and prisons has led human rights observers to debate whether this negligence is a deliberate strategy employed by the authorities, or a flagrant indication of the deteriorating infrastructure and services in the Egyptian prison system.