The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights A report on the death of Journalist Mohamed Mounir

July 26th, 2020 by Editor

Since the Covid-19 outbreak in Egypt, fears have risen regarding the spread of the virus in Egyptian prisons. After the Ministry of health announced the suspension of all events that entail large gatherings, the Ministry of Interior announced the suspension of prison visits due to the pandemic. In a meeting between the Director of the Prison Authority General Hisham Al Baradie and the National Council for Human Rights, the General displayed all the measures taken by the Prison Authority to sanitize prison cells, as well medical check-ups and Covid-19 tests for inmates. General Baradie stated before that not a single case of Covid-19 was reported in Egyptian prison and that the authorities have released since March 2020 over 13,000 prisoners. For this reason EOHR paid close attention to the developments of the case of Mohamed Mounir since the first day of his arrest, and EOHR urged the authorities to release him immediately. Once Mr. Mounir was released he announced through a video he recorded that he was infected with Covid-19 according to the diagnosis of his personal physician Dr. Alaa Awad, and he implored the president of the press syndicate, his friends and his brother journalist Hazem Mounir to help transfer his to hospital. Indeed Mr. Mounir’s pleas did not go unheard and he was taken to Um Al Masryeen hospital.

Mr. Mounir’s death by Covid-19 caused widespread controversy, as it was rumoured that he got infected in Prison which prompted EOHR to make all the necessary efforts to uncover the facts surrounding the case.

Who is Mohamed Mounir

  • Writer and journalist born in 1955. He began journalistic work in 1998 in Al-Ahaly newspaper.
  • He issued a book, he also wrote many articles, and received many awards and honours from various places
  • On July 2, the State Security Prosecution released the journalist, Mohamed Mounir, who was charged in case No. 535 after being arrested and held for fifteen days under preventive detention.

Hazem Mounir’s testimony regarding his Brother’s death

After a few hours of my brother’s arrest, a security convoy took him to the Supreme State Security Prosecution for interrogation, and issued a decision to put him in custody for 15 days pending case No. 535 of 2020.

From the headquarters of the State Security Prosecution in Nasr City, my late brother moved to a police station in the middle of Giza Governorate, where he spent his first night at a detention area specified for the elderly. Afterwards thanks to the efforts of the President of the Press Syndicate my brother was transferred to Al Haram Hospital to carry out the necessary medical examinations due to his health problems.

Mohamed Mounir has been held in the police station for the duration of his initial pre-trial detention, and throughout this period his daughters, his legal defence  team and myself we had  no complains regarding any harassment or prevention from daily visits (and sometimes two or three visits per day) or delivering his basic needs and requirements like Medicine, food, clothes, and all the sterilization tools. We were even allowed to provide my brother with fan due to the hot weather.

During this period, my brother was complaining about some health problems, caused by the place of detention, especially with the diseases that he was suffering from (and will be mentioned later) and it was a real problem for us and for fear of causing any harm to him, but we overcame these problems, thanks to the good treatment and good response of those in charge of the place of detention.

Before the first pre-trial detention period ended, my brother was summoned again to the investigation authorities, who decided to renew his imprisonment for an additional 15 days, and my brother went to Al-Haram Hospital, where a medical check-up was administered on him before he was transferred to the Tora Prison Hospital, where the second stage of the circumstances of my brother’s death, had begun on July 1st and ended with his release, the following day on July 2nd.

Immediately upon his arrival at Tora Prison Hospital, he underwent medical examinations, which took him an hour and a half, and my brother told me that the check-up was at the best level, and the doctor told him that he was “afraid” that he had a “stroke in the heart – which necessitates completing the exams – according to what he said. My brother remained in the hospital with another prisoner in one room, and never entered the prison itself.

The next day, immediately after his arrival at the hospital, I received a call informing me of the release of my brother, and I went to Tora Prison to take him and leave after finishing the necessary procedures that took nearly three hours or a little less.

Here we have a pause and state the following facts:

  1. First: Mohamed Mounir did not set foot in the prison, and he spent the night in Tora Hospital, and anyone who ever visited a prison inmate knows the spatial difference between the prison itself and the hospital building, although the two are in the same walled compound, there is no mixing whatsoever between the two buildings, and my brother only spent a night in the hospital.
  2. We stayed throughout the waiting period for the completion of the release procedures, inside the officers’ room, in the presence of all of them, talking and smoking and drinking tea and juice. If my brother had Covid-19 at the time, and the decision to release him was issued for this reason, how could the officers sit with us in the same room for about three hours while knowing the my brother had Covid-19.
  3. During a conversation between him and myself while we were waiting for the finalization of the procedures, my brother spoke of the good treatment he received from everyone in the Tora complex and at the hospital where he stayed. He even surprised the officers with his usual wit, when he appreciated the fava beans that he had this morning . I then escorted him and my family to his home, where he made some calls on the way to the Honourable colleague, the president of the press syndicate, the journalist Diaa Rashwan, to reassure him about the conditions, and to inform him of some medical problems that need urgent treatment, especially the stroke in the heart that the doctor of the Tora Hospital warned of. And Rashwan  pledged to take the required measures immediately.

According to the medical death certificate, the immediate cause of Mr. Mounir’s death was caused by:

  • Cardiac muscle stops.
    • A severe decrease in the blood oxygen level.
    • Infection with Covid-19

After examining these facts EOHR notes that Mr. Mohamed Mounir was held in the ward of detainees inside the Tora Prison Complex for only one day and spent the rest of the duration of his stay at the Tora Hospital.

EOHR also notes Mr. Mounir’s praise for his good treatment during a four-day detention at the police station as he spent them at an area specified for the elderly.

EOHR notes that Mr. Mounir’s defence attorney and his family we allowed to visit him and provide him with all his basic needs.

EOHR also noted that Mr. Mounir received medical check-ups and examinations at both Al Haram Hospital and the Tora hospital due to the medical problems he suffered from.

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