An Egyptian rights group monitored reported the death of an inmate at the Gamasa maximum-security prison in northeastern Egypt amid official denial.
In response to the death, prisoners protested against the death of their fellow inmate, Mohamed El-Komy, 22, causing a fire inside the prison, according to the Egyptian Network for Human Rights (ENHR).
The reason for the fire remains unclear. Unconfirmed reports said that at least 10 more prisoners were killed.
El-Komy’s family was notified of his death without being told the cause. But according to official papers, he died from “a failure in the circulatory system.”
For its part, ENHR sources claim that “he was tortured to death by the prison police.”
According to ENHR, the prison administration sought the help of riot forces to disperse by force protesting prisoners who were angry over the death El-Komy. Several inmates were denied family visits as a result and were forced to stay in the discipline ward.
Unconfirmed reports indicated that 20 inmates were also moved to another maximum-security prison in Assuit in southern Egypt as a punishment for them and their families.
The group quoted testimonies that said riot forces wore protective gear while spreading “burning substances” at the prisoners inside their cells, causing burn-like injuries.
“The prison police officers insulted the families of prisoners using obscene words, as they beat up the women waiting in the line,” one visitor told ENHR.
Several rights groups had frequently urged the government to reform prison conditions where many had been allegedly tortured to death, entered into a hunger strike to protest maltreatment, or experienced medical negligence.
In March this year, a new law was passed by the parliament, relabeling prisons into “correctional facilities” and prisoners into “inmates,” while wardens are now described as “directors,” a change of names that were subject to mockery by social media activists.
Earlier in January, a documentary produced by Al-Araby TV, a sister company of The New Arab, exposed that hundreds, if not thousands, of political prisoners and detainees held at Egypt’s notorious Al-Aqrab prison, experienced years of maltreatment and inhumane conditions in a film, titled “Scorpion Prison in Egypt: the Cemetery of the Living”.