Former MP dies in prison day before trial starts

A former member of Parliament (MP) from the Muslim Brotherhood’s now-dissolved political branch died in prison on Monday after the authorities withheld critically needed health care, according to a statement from the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP).

Mohamed al-Falahgy allegedly slipped into a coma due to liver damage while in custody at Gamasa prison in Damietta, and was “left to die slowly,” the FJP argued in its statement. The party accused the prison authorities of “deliberate negligence.”

“Falahgy was murdered at the hands of the coup’s Interior Ministry due to the neglect of his health condition, which noticeably deteriorated in Gamasa prison over the past period,” read a statement from the National Alliance Supporting Legitimacy, an umbrella coalition formed in support of former President Mohamed Morsi after his fall from power.

However, security sources refuted those claims, saying that they had transferred Falahgy to the hospital for treatment for his kidney stones, according to the state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram.

Falahgy represented Damietta in the 2012 Parliament. He was arrested in August 2013 on charges of inciting violence and attacking a police station in the aftermath of Morsi’s ouster. He was acquitted of those charges in February, but remained in detention as he awaited trial on charges of inciting people to burn the Islamic Complex in Damietta. That trial begins on Tuesday, according to the FJP.

His death comes shortly after leading Muslim Brotherhood figure and former MP Farid Ismail died in prison last week after falling into a coma for several days. His family as well as the Brotherhood also accused the prison of criminal negligence, claiming they deliberately allowed Ismail’s health to deteriorate without providing him with the proper medical care.

In September 2013, Brotherhood leader Safwat Khalil also passed away in his prison cell in Mansoura after a battle with cancer. His family leveled similar accusations against authorities for his death.

In a report released in January, the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said “scores” of Egyptians have died in custody in 2014 alone, and independently documented nine such cases since mid-2013. Some detainees died from injuries sustained while being tortured in prison, while others died while being held in overcrowded cells or after failing to receive adequate medical care while in custody.

The FJP statement estimates that at least 257 people have died in Egyptian prisons since 2013.

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