A senior leader of Egypt's outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group died of a heart attack on Thursday in a Cairo prison where he had been serving a 25-year sentence, his lawyer said.
The attorney, Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsoud, said Essam el-Erian, 66, had been behind bars since 2013, following the military overthrow of Egypt’s first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, who hailed from the Brotherhood’s ranks.
After Morsi’s ouster, Egyptian authorities designated the Brotherhood as a terrorist group, imprisoned thousands of its leaders and members and cracked down heavily on dissent.
El-Erian is not the first Muslim Brotherhood leader to die behind bars. Last year, ousted President Morsi collapsed in court while standing trial. The UN rights experts said then that Morsi was denied medical care, lost vision in one eye and suffered recurrent diabetic comas, concluding that the conditions he endured “could amount to a state-sanctioned arbitrary killing”.
Like many Muslim Brotherhood leaders, el-Erian stood several trials and faced a plethora of terror-related charges. In 2018, a Cairo Court ordered his execution along with tens of Muslim Brotherhood members who were convicted of staging an armed sit-in, vandalizing public property, as well on counts related to the killing of a policemen and an Egyptian citizen.
El-Erian's lawyer had appealed the verdict.