Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically-elected president who was ousted by the military in 2013, has died after collapsing in court, state TV said on Monday.
Egypt’s public broadcaster said the 67-year-old former president was attending a session in his trial on espionage charges when he blacked out and then died. His body was taken to a hospital, it said.
“He was speaking before the judge for 20 minutes then became very animated and fainted. He was quickly rushed to the hospital where he later died,” a judicial source told AFP.
Morsi, who hailed from Egypt’s largest Islamist group, the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, was elected president in 2012 in the country’s first free elections following the ouster the year before of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.
The military ousted him in 2013 after massive protests and crushed the Brotherhood in a deadly crackdown, arresting its leaders and sentencing scores to death.
The years following Morsi’s overthrow have seen a surge in bombings and shootings targeting security forces, particularly in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula, a stronghold of the Islamic State group.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had forged close ties with Morsi, paid tribute to the former president, calling him a “martyr.”
“May Allah rest our Morsi brother, our martyr’s soul in peace,” Erdogan said.
The Islamist leader had been in prison since his ouster, accused of spying for Iran, Qatar and militant groups such as Hamas in the Gaza Strip. He was also accused of plotting terror acts.
His family said he suffered from ill health due to harsh conditions, including years of solitary confinement.
Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director with the Human Rights Watch, tweeted on Monday that Morsi’s death was “terrible but entirely predictable” given the government “failure to allow him adequate medical care, much less family visits.”
BREAKING – #Egypt news says only democratically elected Pres #Morsy has died in prison after stroke. This is terrible but ENTIRELY predictable, given govt failure to allow him adequate medical care, much less family visits. @hrw was just finalizing a report on his health.
— Sarah Leah Whitson (@sarahleah1) 17 June 2019