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Mohamed al-Zawahiri released from prison for health reasons
Courtesy: Al-Ahram

Mohamed al-Zawahiri, the brother of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, was released from police custody due to health issues and is on parole until his trial on Tuesday, reported the Reuters-affiliate Aswat Masriya.

Cairo Criminal Court stated that Zawahiri will be under strict police surveillance and must report to court every 45 days pending his trial.

Zawahiri is accused of forming and running an Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group, dubbed as the “Zawahiri cell,” that allegedly targets state facilities, police, the Armed Forces and Coptic citizens.

The case against Zawahiri also includes 67 other defendants, 10 of which were referred to the grand mufti after they were issued preliminary death sentences by Cairo Criminal Court in August 2015. Zawahiri was not among those sentenced to death.

In October 2015, Zawahiri was acquitted of his involvement with the “Zawahiri cell,” but remains accused of attempting to join a terrorist organization, as well as attempting to overthrow the regime and spreading radicalism. 

Zawahiri was arrested two days after the violent dispersal of the Rabea al-Adaweya protests in August 2013.

He was initially brought to Egypt in 1998 as part of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. He faced military trial at the time, along with Jama’a al-Islamiya and Egyptian Islamic Jihad leaders, who played a key role in the Islamist militant movement against the state in the 1990s. Zawahiri received a death sentence in absentia.

The Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) then released Zawahiri in 2011, but he was arrested again and referred to military trial for his 1998 conviction. He was released in 2012 and cleared of all charges.

Zawahiri’s treatment is unusual, as there have been multiple reports of medical negligence in prisons and police stations in recent months. Families and rights organizations continue to testify that detainees are denied warm clothes, basic necessities and medical care.

There also have been multiple instances where detainees with urgent medical conditions have been ignored while their health deteriorates.

Mahmoud Mohamed, the 20-year-old who was arrested for wearing an anti-torture t-shirt, was recently reported to be suffering from health issues stemming from leg surgery he had before he entered prison. His brother stated that the prison doctors were not providing Mohamed with adequate medical care and that he may need more surgery as a result.

In September 2015, lawyers claimed that a Brotherhood leader died in prison due to wilful medical neglect on the part of prison authorities.

The Al-Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence released a report in June 2015 stating that there were 97 cases of severe medical negligence in Egyptian prisons.