Rights group urges Egypt to release critic’s autopsy report

CAIRO (AP) – A leading human rights group is urging Egyptian authorities to release the autopsy report and investigate the suspicious death of an economic researcher detained two months ago.

Human Rights Watch said the autopsy analysis and photos of Ayman Hadhood’s body should be made public and reviewed by independent forensic experts to determine whether he was tortured in custody, according to a statement released late Wednesday.

It comes after Egyptian prosecutors said Monday the autopsy report ruled out Hadhoud had been subjected to torture or ill-treatment. They said he suffered from a chronic heart condition that caused his heart and respiratory system to stop abruptly.

“The suspicious death of Ayman Hadhoud in custody requires a fully independent, impartial and thorough investigation, starting with an independent review of the autopsy results,” said Joe Stork, deputy director of Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch. “It is clear that the Egyptian authorities have committed serious abuses against Hadhoud by subjecting him to prolonged enforced disappearance.”

Hadhoud, 48, was pronounced dead earlier this month after being transferred to the government-run Abbasiya Mental Health Hospital in Cairo, according to the Interior Ministry. The ministry said he was detained on February 6 for allegedly trying to break into an apartment in Cairo’s upscale Zamalek neighborhood and displaying “irresponsible behavior”.

The statement was the first official account of what has happened to Hadhoud, a critic of the government’s economic policy, since his disappearance.

Activists and academics have taken to social media to denounce Hadhoud’s death, and many have called for an investigation. Ultimately, prosecutors ordered a forensic autopsy of his body to determine the cause of death.

Relatives and friends of Hadhoud who went to the building where the autopsy took place claimed that the doctor performing the procedure turned down requests for independent monitors, the HRW said.

The group also quoted a brother, who had seen the body, as saying Hadhoud had bruises to his face and a cracked skull.

Torture and ill-treatment by the police are not uncommon in Egypt. In 2016, Giulio Regeni, an Italian graduate student, was found dead by the side of a road in Cairo. His body had been mistreated, raising suspicions of police involvement. Italy accused police officers of killing him, a charge Egypt denied.

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