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Egypt union: Police tortured doctor to death in custody

The Egyptian Doctors Syndicate has accused the head of Gamasa police station in the Dakahlia Governorate of torturing a doctor to death whilst he was in pretrial detention.

اتهمت نقابة الأطباء، مأمور قسم شرطة جمصة وجميع الضباط وأفراد الشرطة الموجودين بالقسم في المدة من 28 فبراير حتى مارس الماضيين، بقتل استشاري الطب النفسي رجائي وفائي، عمدًا، بتعذيبه نفسيًا وبدنيًا خلال حبسه احتياطيًا في قضية خطأ طبي، ما ترتب عليه إعيائه الشديد ووفاته.

— Mada Masr مدى مصر (@MadaMasr) April 1, 2023

Rajaj Wafai died under suspicious circumstances on 6 March after being arrested for making a mistake whilst on duty which resulted in the death of a patient.

The union wrote a Facebook post demanding that officers at the station be investigated, but later deleted it.

Member of the union’s council Ahmed Hussein, who has now resigned over the incident, said that the post was deleted after pressure from the security services.

Hussein said that security forces called him and asked him to delete the post, he refused, but it was later deleted by someone else.

Rajaj’s wife has said that whilst in custody her husband was prevented from using the toilet and that when she received his body, his head had been shaved.

Rajaj had high blood pressure, diabetes and was overweight, according to his wife, who said that these conditions were exacerbated by the psychological and physical torture he suffered.

The doctor was eventually transferred to intensive care but died before reaching hospital.

Egyptian authorities have a history of using systematic torture and the denial of medical care to prisoners, including doctors, as a punitive measure.

In September 2020 prominent psychiatrist Dr Amr Abu Khalil contracted COVID-19 in prison and then died of a heart attack after prison officials refused to allow in life-saving medicine.

In 2020 Amnesty International called on Egypt to end their campaign of harassment and intimidation against healthcare workers who at that time were being targeted for criticising the government’s handling of coronavirus.

Doctors and other healthcare personnel were being threatened, harassed and detained under the vague charges of “spreading false news” and “terrorism”.

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