Egypt’s ousted president in prison hospital

Associated Press

CAIRO — Egypt’s ousted President Mohammed Morsi spent his first night in a civilian penitentiary in a hospital room after he complained he wasn’t feeling well, senior security officials said Tuesday.

The Interior Ministry denied that the 62-year-old ousted president, who until his first day of trial Monday had been held in a secret military facility, was ill. But it said in a statement on Egypt’s state news agency that Morsi was undergoing medical check-ups, and will be transferred to his regular cell later.

Following his dramatic court appearance Monday, Morsi was transferred to a maximum security prison in a remote desert area near Alexandria, Egypt’s second city. It was his first appearance following his July ouster.

During the court, Morsi was feisty, speaking loudly to the judges, and proclaimed he was still the president of Egypt. His frequent interruptions and those of his co-defendants forced the judge to adjourn the sessions twice, before scheduling the next hearing on Jan. 8.

Morsi had also refused to enter a plea and said his trial was illegitimate. Morsi is accused of incitement to murder his opponents in connection to a bout of violence outside Cairo’s presidential palace when he was in office. Fourteen other Brotherhood members and Islamists are tried in the same case.

Morsi was transported in a helicopter from the courtroom in eastern Cairo to Borg el-Arab prison complex, where a special pad had been prepared, the security officials said.

Upon arrival to the prison, Morsi complained of high blood pressure and high blood sugar, the officials said.

Morsi has been reported to have a number of medical conditions. He told the media when he was running for office that he suffered from diabetes. He was treated for a peptic ulcer in 2000, and his presidential campaign said he had surgery under his skull in 2008.

Another senior security official in Cairo said Morsi was agitated, and initially refused to put on the prison jumpsuit. He had also refused to wear the prison outfit during the trial. He finally put it on after much discussion, the official said.

All security officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak to reporters.

The official said he was taken to a prison hospital room with a separate bathroom and a TV, instead of the small cell where he was supposed to go.

The Borg el-Arab complex is one of Egypt’s newest prisons. It was built in 2004 and designed as a maximum security facility.

The 50-acre compound sits in desert adjoining a road that links Alexandria and the western coastal city of Marsa Matruh.

The compound is garrisoned by a special unit of the security forces. Inside there are two sets of buildings; one for detainees who have not been sentenced, and another for inmates who have been convicted and received high sentences, including some on death row. The two units are surrounded by two separate walls, making an escape attempt or an assault difficult.

Security officials had expressed fear that radical supporters of Morsi may attempt to break him out of prison, which in part explains their decision to keep him in a maximum security facility.

Keeping Morsi in Borg el-Arab also separates him from the Muslim Brotherhood leadership, most of whom are held in another high security prison in Cairo. Morsi’s co-defendants in his trial are among those held in the Cairo prison.

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