Home International Senior Muslim Brotherhood leader dies in Egypt prison

Senior Muslim Brotherhood leader dies in Egypt prison

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CORRECTS ATTRIBUTION OF DEATH TO ABDEL MONEIM ABDEL MAQSOUD -- FILE - In this April 21, 2015 file photo, Senior Muslim brotherhood leader Essam el-Erian, left, flashes the four-fingered symbol of Rabaah that refers to the deadly dispersal of supporters of former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in August 2013, inside a makeshift courtroom at Egypt's National Police Academy, in Cairo, Egypt. Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsoud, an Egyptian lawyer said Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020 that el-Erian died of a heart attack in a Cairo prison where he was serving a 25-year sentence. The 66-year-old leader had been behind bars since 2013, following the military overthrow of Egypt’s first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, who had hailed from the Brotherhood’s ranks. Morsi also died while in custody. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

A senior leader of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood died Thursday in an Egyptian prison where he was serving multiple sentences including on terror-related charges, his lawyer said.

Essam al-Erian, 66, was arrested in 2013 following the army’s ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi on the back of mass protests against his brief rule.

“The authorities notified me of his death, and I informed his family to arrange for receiving his body (for burial),” lawyer Abdelmoneim Abdelmaqsood told AFP.

“It was a natural death,” he added.

Egyptian media reported that Erian died of a heart attack following an argument with a fellow inmate.

But Human Rights Watch deputy regional director Joe Stork said the responsibility for Erian’s death rests “entirely” with the Egyptian authorities.

He called on Cairo to launch an “effective” investigation into the death.

Erian was the vice-president of the Brotherhood’s political wing, the now-dissolved Freedom and Justice party.

He was sentenced in multiple cases on charges including incitement to violence, murder and espionage.

According to Abdelmaqsood, the cases brought against Erian carried sentences amounting to “a total of 150 years” in prison.

Since Morsi’s overthrow, the authorities have cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood’s rank and file, jailing thousands of members and supporters.

They have also blacklisted the Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation.

But the Islamist group has consistently denied any link to violence.

Authorities placed Erian on their terror blacklist, a designation that has allowed them to freeze his assets.

Morsi himself died in custody in June 2019, after falling ill during a court hearing.

Morsi’s rule was marked by deep divisions in Egyptian society, a crippling economic crisis and often-deadly opposition protests. Source: AFP

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