UN calls for ‘prompt and thorough’ probe into Morsi’s death

The UN rights office demands investigation into Morsi’s death as people across the Middle East mourn the ex-president.

Egypt''s former president Mohamed Morsi sentenced to 20 years in prison
Morsi was buried in a small family ceremony in Cairo [Ahmed Ramadan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images]

The UN has called for a “thorough and transparent investigation” into the death of Mohamed Morsi in court, as thousands of people across the Middle East paid their respects to Egypt‘s former president.

The UN human rights office on Tuesday said the investigation should encompass all aspects of his treatment during nearly six years of his incarceration.

Egypt’s first democratically elected president was buried in a small family ceremony early on Tuesday a day after he suffered a fatal heart attack in a Cairo court, his sons said.

“Concerns have been raised regarding the conditions of Mr Morsi’s detention, including access to adequate medical care, as well as sufficient access to his lawyers and family …,” UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said in a statement.


“The investigation should be carried out by a judicial or other competent authority that is independent of the detaining authority and mandated to conduct prompt, impartial and effective investigations into the circumstances and causes of his death,” he said.

Morsi was overthrown on July 3, 2013, after barely in power for a year in a coup staged by current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and placed under house arrest before being moved to prison.

Erdogan attends prayer

Morsi’s death has brought an outpouring of condolences from around the Middle East.

“I mourn, for myself and all the free people of the world, the death of a great striver on the path of freedom,” said Tawakkol Karman, joint recipient of Nobel Peace Prize.

Al Jazeera Jamal Elshayyal, reporting from Doha said that hundreds of mourners gathered at a local mosque to pay their respects to the former president.

“The presence of Khaled Meshaal, the former leader of the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, is a testament that Morsi is seen as a champion of other causes such as struggle for freedom in Palestine,” he said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended a prayer service in Istanbul for the former Egyptian president.

At Istanbul’s Fatih mosque, where thousands joined in prayers, Erdogan called Morsi a “martyr” and blamed Egypt’s “tyrants” for his death, adding that he didn’t believe that Morsi died of natural causes.

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan
The Turkish president called Morsi a “martyr” and blamed Egypt’s “tyrants” for his death [Kayhan Ozer/Anadolu Agency]

“I don’t believe that this was a normal death,” Erdogan, a key supporter of Morsi, said.

The Turkish president also denounced the Egyptian authorities for burying Morsi discreetly, with only a small number of family members and confidants present.

Journalists were kept away from the burial service in Cairo, while a family request to bury him in his home town was turned down.

But mourners still gathered in the former president’s home province of Sharqiya to pay their respects.


Exiled Egyptian opposition politician Ayman Nour called Morsi “a martyr who was killed deliberately”.

Amr Darrag, a senior member of Brotherhood’s political party who also lives in exile, said: “Sisi is the murderer and there must be a transparent and independent international investigation.”

Rights bodies, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have also called for a credible investigation into Morsi’s death.

“The government of Egypt today bears responsibility for his death, given their failure to provide him with adequate medical care or basic prisoner rights,” HRW said in a statement to Al Jazeera.

“He’s been in prison and treated worse than the already terrible conditions for Egypt’s prisoners,” Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of the HRW’s Middle East and North Africa division, told Al Jazeera, decrying Morsi’s “terrible but entirely predictable” death.

“The Egyptian government has known very clearly about his declining medical state. He had lost a great deal of weight, he had fainted in court a number of times and was being kept in almost around-the-clock solitary confinement.”

A leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood group, Morsi won Egypt’s first free presidential election in 2012, a year after an uprising that toppled longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.

Turkey’s ruling AK Party supported Morsi’s government and many Brotherhood members and supporters have fled to Turkey since its activities were banned in Egypt in 2013.

“There are Arab dissidents and journalists who have been residing in Turkey since the Arab Spring began and people are here to give support for Morsi’s cause,” Al Jazeera’s Sinem Koseoglu, reporting from Istanbul’s Fatih Mosque, said. 

At the time of his death, Morsi, 67, faced a host of legal charges, which he, along with many human rights groups and independent observers, said were politically motivated.

Thousands of members of now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood organisation, who were arrested in the crackdown following the 2013 coup, are still languishing in jails.

Egypt’s government has dismissed accusations that the former president was badly treated.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies