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Left in a coma for days, imprisoned Egyptian lawyer dies

An imprisoned Egyptian lawyer and human rights defender was in a coma for two days before he was transferred to an intensive care unit where he died earlier this month, human rights groups told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper.

Ali Abbas Barakat had been in prison since 2016. He had been convicted in multiple court cases, but had appealed and been acquitted on each account, including his latest acquittal in May 2022.

On 17 June last year he was transferred from prison to a police station in preparation for his release, but instead, he disappeared. On 7 July, he reappeared at the Supreme State Security Prosecution in Cairo where he was accused of joining a terrorist group.

Lawyers supporting Barakat have said he was tortured during his period of disappearance and have demanded an investigation into his detention and disappearance which they say was without any legal basis.

Earlier this month, the newspaper reported that Barakat, whose health had deterorated as a result of a Hepatitis C infection, felt very tired and was left inside his cell without medical treatment. His family was prevented from checking on or visiting him.

On 10 June, his wife told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, he fell into a coma and was transferred in an unconscious state to Badr Prison Hospital near Cairo where he died.

With Barakat’s death, the number of deaths in prisons and official detention centres in Egypt has risen to 17 since the beginning of this year. Fifty-two prisoners died in 2022, either as a result of medical negligence, cold or natural death in difficult conditions of detention, according to independent human rights organisations.

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