Death of ousted Egyptian president Morsi in court sparks anger

Former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, above, who had been facing trials since his ouster in 2013, collapsed and died in a Cairo courtroom during a hearing on Monday, authorities said.

Morsi, 61, spoke for about 20 minutes defending himself against allegations of spying for the Palestinian militant group Hamas when he suddenly fainted.

State TV said he died of heart attack.

The sudden death of Egypt’s first democratically elected president and member of the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood evoked angry reactions from some leaders and rights groups.

While paying tributes to Morsi, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called him a “martyr”.

Muslim Brotherhood described Morsi’s death as a “premeditated murder” since jail authorities did not allow him to receive medicine or visitors despite his deteriorating health.

During trials, Morsi was placed behind a glass cage so that no one could hear him, the group said.

A spokesman of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party called Morsi’s death a murder in the courtroom.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) expressed concern over the failure of jail authorities to allow him adequate medical care and family visits.

HRW’s Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson said his death was tragic but entirely predictable.

Morsi’s family alleged his health issues were caused by the harsh conditions he had to face during six years of solitary confinement.

Last year, a panel of British parliamentarians had warned in its report that the inadequate medical care Morsi received could lead to his premature death.

Morsi became Egypt’s president in 2012 after an uprising overthrew Hosni Mubarak’s old and corrupt regime.

A year later, he was removed by the military after mass protests against his rule. Morsi’s then defence minister and army chief and incumbent President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi seized power and consolidated his position by winning rigged elections in 2014 and 2018.

In a crackdown, El-Sissi jailed Morsi and several other members of Muslim Brotherhood.

Islamist groups based in Sinai Peninsula hit back by targeting security forces, tourists and Coptic Christians.