Former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who died on Monday, was left without first aid for 20 minutes after collapsing in a courtroom during his trial, The Independent newspaper reported.
Morsi, who became Egypt’s first democratically elected president in 2012 but was overthrown in a military coup the following year, was left “slumped on the floor” of the defendants’ cage while other defendants called for help.
Morsi was being tried for charges including having contact with Hamas and Hizballah, which are widely seen as political. The Egyptian state has regular contact with Hamas and mediates between them and Israel.
The 67-year-old former president was suffering from diabetes, hypertension, and liver disease, and was held in solitary confinement in prison for 23 hours a day while being denied medical treatment.
Last March, a panel of British MPs warned that Morsi could die prematurely if treatment continued to be denied.
The Independent quoted Abdullah al-Haddad, whose father and brother were also on trial alongside Morsi, as saying that “no one bothered” to aid Morsi after he collapsed.
“He was left slumped for a while until the guards took him out. An ambulance arrived after 30 minutes. Other detainees were first to notice his collapse, they started shouting. Some of them, who are doctors, asked the guards to let them treat him or give him first aid,” Mr Haddad told The Independent.
“Neglecting him at the beginning was deliberate. The first thing the prison guards did after detainees started shouting was to get family members out of the courtroom.”
Another activist who wished to remain anonymous told The Independent, “about 10 minutes after [Morsi] had stopped speaking, the people inside the cage started banging on the walls of the cage saying he is unconscious and they need help”.
The testimony of Mr Haddad and the anonymous activist contradict the official Egyptian government version of events, which said that Morsi “was transported immediately to hospital” after collapsing.
The United Nations yesterday called for an independent inquiry into Morsi’s death.
"Any sudden death in custody must be followed by a prompt, impartial, thorough and transparent investigation carried out by an independent body to clarify the cause of death," said Rupert Colville, the spokesman for the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights.