Rights groups slam ending probe into 'unnatural' death of Egyptian economist Ayman Hadhoud
Seven high-profile Egyptian human rights groups denounced on Thursday ending the investigation into the alleged killing of economic researcher Ayman Hadhoud earlier in March, given there is evidence of a possible "unnatural" cause of death.
Egyptian economist Hadhoud was allegedly detained in early February and was reported dead in April by his brother, allegedly after being held in a mental health facility.
Hadhoud had acted as an unofficial negotiator on behalf of detainees held under President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and was a member of the liberal Reform and Development Party
Two prominent rights groups in May filed a request before the public prosecution demanding it investigate the case and obtain footage from surveillance cameras installed in areas where Hadhoud was last seen.
The rights groups' request came after his brother, Omar Hadhoud, also a lawyer, filed a lawsuit against the director of the mental health facility, the head of the forensic medicine unit there, as well as those involved in the incident.
On 23 June, the court upheld the decision to close the investigation into Hadhoud’s death.
Rights groups say there were more questions than answers on the reasons and motives behind closing the case due to evidence and suspicions presented by the defence team allegedly not being seriously considered.
The defence drew the court's attention to the public prosecution's alleged lack of impartiality after it had released a statement ruling out any foul play behind Hadhoud's death before an investigation was even concluded.
The mysterious death of Hadhoud has been marred by contradictory accounts ever since it was officially announced in April.
While the coroner attributed the cause of death to be a cardiac arrest that occurred while Hadhoud was being held at a mental health facility, without his family being informed, a security source previously confirmed to The New Arab that he died from a skull fracture due to torture while being held in custody at a state security building.
Hadhoud was detained in early February following investigations into his activities and criticism of Egypt's economic situation, the security source said back in April, confirming he was subjected to enforced disappearance.
Since President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi took office in 2014, local and international human rights groups have documented dozens of cases of enforced disappearance in Egypt. Among those who disappeared is activist and former MP Mostafa al-Naggar, who has been missing since 2018.
Sisi has further been accused by local and international rights groups of overseeing Egypt's worst crackdown on human rights in decades, with over 60,000 of his critics already behind bars. Some suffered medical negligence and were left to die slowly, while dozens of others were executed or are on death row.