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Family requests surveillance footage from final weeks of economic researcher Ayman Hadhoud’s life

The family of the late economic researcher Ayman Hadhoud has filed a legal request for the release of surveillance footage from the final weeks in his life.

Hadhoud was forcibly disappeared in February and is thought to have been held in custody for some time before authorities transferred him to the Abbasseya Psychiatric Hospital, where he grew seriously ill, died and was held for weeks before relatives were informed of his passing.

Lawyers acting on behalf of Hadhoud’s family also requested, in a Thursday submission to the Public Prosecution, that the investigation into his death be merged with that into robbery charges that were levied against him in relation to his initial arrest, said Fatma Serag, a member of the legal team.

Hadhoud’s family have taken legal action to ensure they are able to follow the investigation procedures into the circumstances of his death, and press charges against any responsible parties.

According to the request, a copy of which was viewed by Mada Masr, the footage to be inspected includes CCTV recordings from Marachli Street in Cairo’s Zamalek neighborhood from 10:30 pm on February 5 into the following morning, when Hadhoud is said to have been arrested for forcing entry to an apartment.

It also includes a request for footage from the Qasr al-Nil and Amiriya police stations from February 6 to 17, where family members have said they believe Hadhoud to have been held after his arrest, and for footage of the Abbasseya Psychiatric Hospital and its forensics ward, where Hadhoud was admitted under custody orders for the final days of his life.

Claiming damages, the family also requested that a misdemeanors investigation into the robbery charges against Hadhoud be merged with the case investigating his death, arguing that the authorities’ treatment of Hadhoud began with the initial robbery charges and that combining the two investigations will lead to the greatest possible clarity about the circumstances surrounding his death.

Serag told Mada Masr that she has not been granted access to files for either case, although she is rightfully entitled by law to access the files pertaining to the robbery charges.

Hadhoud, who was a member of the liberal Reform and Development Party, was arrested and forcibly disappeared on February 5. His family was informed by a member of the police force that he was detained at a site at Amiriya Police Station belonging to the National Security Agency, his brother, Omar, told Mada Masr in early April. Officials in the department denied that Hadhoud was in their custody at the time.

A week after his February disappearance, Hadhoud’s family learned that he had been transferred to Abbasseya Psychiatric Hospital to be placed under observation for 45 days, according to Omar.

According to a family friend, the family tried to visit Hadhoud at the hospital, but their request was rejected by the hospital administration, which asked them to obtain permission from the prosecution. The family was unable to do so, as the prosecution denied having any information regarding Hadhoud at the time.

At the end of March, the family was able to communicate with a member of staff at the Abbasseya hospital, who informed them on April 4 that Hadhoud had died in March. On April 5, they received a call from Nasr City Police Station 2 telling them they could come to pick his body up from the hospital.

Photographs of Hadhoud’s body taken during an April autopsy show signs indicating that he was tortured or subject to physical assault at some point before his death, according to an independent forensic expert cited in a report released by Amnesty International.

Derrick Pounder, a forensic pathologist who examined photos of Hadhoud’s corpse after the autopsy, told Amnesty that there were marks on his forearms and the left side of his face that strongly suggest that he suffered repeated injuries before he died. Pounder said that the marks could not be explained by the process of natural decay, as their distribution suggests they were caused by burns while he was still alive, according to Amnesty.

The organization, which said it spoke with relatives and friends of Hadhoud, added that the analysis correlates with two eyewitness accounts of injuries on his face and head seen at the hospital mortuary on 10 April — before the autopsy was carried out.

In the result of an official autopsy, the Public Prosecution said it found no signs of injury, adding that the hospital reported the cause of death as a sharp drop in blood pressure and cardiac arrest. The statement mentioned symptoms of schizophrenia and delusion, as well as suspected infection with coronavirus.

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