Erdogan says Egyptian ex-president Morsi was ‘killed’

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan alleged Wednesday that the Egyptian government killed former President Mohammed Morsi, challenging official accounts that he died of natural causes and escalating tension with Cairo.

Mr. Morsi died Monday after spending the past six years as a prisoner. Egyptian authorities say Mr. Morsi, who was overthrown and detained in 2013 after a coup led by current president, Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, suffered a heart attack in a Cairo courtroom, and was dead on arrival at a hospital.

“He didn’t die, he was killed,” the Turkish president said in a speech in Istanbul on Wednesday.

Mr. Erdogan alleged that Mr. Morsi flailed for 20 minutes on the ground of the Cairo courtroom on Monday, and that nobody assisted him.

Mr. Erdogan didn’t offer any evidence for his claim. Mr. Erdogan is a bitter rival of Mr. Sisi, and has condemned human-rights violations in Egypt before as a means of undermining the Egyptian regime. He denounced the 2013 coup that Mr. Sisi led, and has welcomed numerous Egyptian exiles in Turkey, including both Islamists and non-Islamist critics of Egypt’s government.

The Egyptian government hasn’t commented on Mr. Erdogan’s claim.

Egypt’s chief prosecutor issued a statement on Monday that suggested no foul play in Mr. Morsi’s death, but also didn’t specify the cause of his death. “There were no visible, recent external injuries on the body of the deceased,” the statement said.

Mr. Morsi’s family and supporters had long worried about his deteriorating health. His family and attorneys said in 2018 that he had been denied medical treatment for a range of conditions.

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, a human-rights group that was critical of Mr. Morsi during his time in power, said Wednesday that Mr. Morsi had died due to medical neglect. “The willful failure to provide adequate health care amounts to murder by neglect,” the group said.

Mr. Erdogan paid tribute to Mr. Morsi Tuesday, attending a prayer service in Istanbul for the deposed president, whom he called a martyr.

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