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Egypt: former MP is third prisoner to die within 48 hours

A human rights organisation confirmed the death of a prisoner in Egypt on Monday as a result of medical negligence, the third such case within 48 hours. The Egyptian Network for Human Rights said on Facebook that former MP Ragab Abu Zaid Zair, 80, died in the ICU of New Wadi Al-Natrun Prison.

Zair’s health deteriorated last month. The network was asked by his family on 23 February to seek his release so that he might be treated at the family’s expense. He was suffering from bronchitis, an enlarged prostate and a weak heart, as well as diabetes.

According to the human rights group, Zair was supposed to be released on 16 December 2021, but the security services did not act on the decision. He was then questioned further and kept in prison despite his age. He had originally been arrested in late October 2013.

This is the seventh prisoner death in Egypt since the beginning of 2023 as a result, it is alleged, of torture and deliberate medical negligence. Prisons and detention facilities, say rights activists, lack the minimum safety standards.

Lawyer Ramadan Youssef Ashry died on Saturday after a heart attack in Al-Abadia Prison in Damanhur. Ashry, 50, had been detained since 2014 and suffered from medical negligence while in prison.

Also on Saturday, Al-Shehab Centre for Human Rights reported the death of Muhammad Mustafa Badawi in Wadi Al-Natrun prison, also due to deliberate medical negligence it is claimed. He was suffering from kidney failure.

According to human rights reports, there are more than 60,000 political prisoners being held in Egypt. Almost 900 have died in prison over the past nine years, forty of them in 2022 alone.

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