Former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi reportedly died after collapsing in court on Monday, almost six years after the Egyptian military removed him from power.
Egyptian state media said that Morsi, 67, fainted during a session of an ongoing trial, one of several in which he was a defendant. While state television initially reported that he died in the courtroom and his body was taken to a hospital, Al Jazeera reported that he died once at the hospital.
“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 Al Jazeera.
The former president was one of 28 defendants on trial for allegedly breaking out prisoners during the 2011 protests that led to the removal of Egypt’s long-term president, Hosni Mubarak. He had already been sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2015 after being “found guilty of ordering the torture and detention of protesters” by the state court.
Sarah Leah Whitson, the executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division, tweeted that Morsi’s death was “entirely predictable” given the lack of health care he was provided, which she says was soon to be the subject of an HRW report.
Morsi came to power in June 2012, running in Egypt‘s first open elections following the so-called Arab Spring protest movement the year prior. Morsi was the chosen candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, a conservative Islamist organization that has been forced underground at various times throughout its history. In winning his election, Morsi narrowly beat out the preferred candidate of the military, the most powerful institution in the country.
But Morsi’s rule was tumultuous and short-lived. The Egyptian economy in the aftermath of the ouster of Mubarak was in shambles, a situation that led protesters to take to the streets again in opposition to him. The military removed him from office in July 2013, establishing the Supreme Council of Armed Forces to temporarily rule in his place. The head of the coup, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, would soon thereafter become president himself, before winning another term last year in a race where the only opposition was himself a Sisi supporter.
Later that year, the Muslim Brotherhood was declared a terrorist group and banned from openly operating in Egypt.