CAIRO — Ayman Hadhoud, a well known liberal economist in Egypt, was researching some politically delicate subjects just like the navy’s position within the economic system earlier than he disappeared into the custody of the nation’s safety forces in early February. He had commonly criticized the federal government and its financial insurance policies on Facebook.
A month after he disappeared, he died instantly below mysterious circumstances whereas in custody. But officers didn’t inform his household that he had died till greater than a month after the March 5 date on his dying certificates and claimed it was from pure causes, shortly clearing themselves of any wrongdoing.
“These are lies,” stated Omar Hadhoud, Mr. Hadhoud’s elder brother, who collected his physique from the morgue and stated he noticed indicators of abuse. “It’s very clear his head was broken. Why else would they hide him?”
Photographs of his brother’s physique, taken within the morgue of the psychiatric hospital the place he died and obtained by The New York Times, confirmed accidents to his higher physique, together with what forensic consultants stated was presumably blunt pressure trauma, in addition to burns on his face and head. Omar Hadhoud stated his brother’s cranium gave the impression to be fractured.
Another one who noticed the physique within the morgue and witnessed the images being taken stated they, too, observed seen accidents, patches of discolored pores and skin and small brownish-red spots round his face and head. The particular person requested to not be named for concern of authorities repercussions.
The images raised suspicions that Mr. Hadhoud, 48, was abused earlier than his dying. His household and human rights teams at the moment are calling for a full, unbiased investigation.
Egypt’s Interior Ministry and head prosecutor, which nearly by no means acknowledge wrongdoing in such instances, have insisted that their very own fast investigation conclusively discovered that the dying was brought on by a “sharp drop in blood circulation and cardiac arrest” and presumably a Covid-19 an infection, including that the authorities bore no duty.
The authorities has refused to remark past the Interior Ministry and prosecution statements.
Egypt’s police and safety businesses have a protracted report of detaining, abusing and torturing their very own residents, particularly these whom the federal government considers political opponents. The nation’s human rights report has drawn appreciable worldwide scrutiny, condemnation and repercussions, with the United States withholding $130 million from its annual help package deal to Egypt this yr.
Previously, the emergence of proof of abuses by the Egyptian safety companies has typically set off home protests or worldwide tensions — together with a police killing that helped ignite the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings and the invention, in 2016, of the mutilated physique of an Italian doctoral scholar, Giulio Regeni.
Anwar Sadat, a former member of Parliament who leads the Reform and Development Party, which Mr. Hadhoud belonged to and had suggested on financial coverage, dismissed the authorities’ explanations as “the usual answers which don’t satisfy anyone.”
Mr. Sadat is the nephew of the previous president whose identify he shares. He referred to as for an investigation into Egypt’s psychological hospitals and the greater than monthlong hole between the date on Mr. Hadhoud’s dying certificates and its official acknowledgment.
“There are too many question marks,” he stated.
Mr. Hadhoud’s case prompted comparisons with that of Mr. Regeni, who disappeared whereas conducting analysis on commerce unions in Egypt and whose physique was discovered, riddled with marks of torture.
“This is happening over and over again in Egypt,” stated Ayman Nour, a outstanding opposition chief who resides in exile and was Mr. Hadhoud’s good friend. “Anyone in Egypt is vulnerable to such practices.”
Mr. Hadhoud, a researcher who grew up in a poor neighborhood of Cairo and studied on the American University in Cairo on a scholarship, had been engaged on a number of politically delicate subjects within the yr earlier than his dying, his brother stated. They included what he described as bribery by members of Parliament and the way the navy had come to dominate Egypt’s economic system, suppressing private-sector competitors and garnering revenues for itself on the expense of the nation’s finances.
The Egyptian authorities steadily detain folks for talking out on social media or for conducting politically charged analysis.
“He believed someone should break the barrier of silence,” Omar Hadhoud stated, including that family and friends had repeatedly warned his brother that his analysis was harmful.
“There were no red lines to Ayman. And he paid for this with his life.”
Mr. Hadhoud’s household first observed him lacking on Feb. 6, Omar Hadhoud stated, when he failed to come back dwelling.
In statements on April 10 and April 12, the authorities claimed that Ayman Hadhoud had been caught making an attempt to interrupt into an condo in Zamalek, an upscale Cairo neighborhood, the evening he went lacking. But he was by no means charged with against the law.
An April 12 assertion by prosecutors asserted that he had schizophrenia, exhibiting “poor concentration and attention, persecutory delusions, delusions of grandeur” and “raving incomprehensibly.”
But Mr. Hadhoud’s brother and acquaintances stated he had by no means been mentally sick.
On Feb. 8, two days after he disappeared, the household discovered the place he had been taken when Egypt’s state safety company knowledgeable them that he was of their custody and summoned one other brother for questioning about Mr. Hadhoud’s actions, work and household, Omar Hadhoud stated.
But by then, in accordance with the prosecutors’ April 12 assertion, officers had already moved Mr. Hadhoud to the Abbasiya Mental Health Hospital in Cairo. Though the household requested repeatedly for his whereabouts and visited a number of authorities places of work in particular person, they weren’t informed that he had been despatched to the hospital, Omar Hadhoud stated.
They finally heard by way of associates with contacts in Egypt’s well being care system that he was at Abbasiya. When members of the family went repeatedly to the hospital, nonetheless, hospital workers both denied that Mr. Hadhoud was there or stated that they would wish written permission from prosecutors to go to, his brother stated.
Not till April 9 did the authorities formally acknowledge that Mr. Hadhoud was hospitalized, when a police officer informed the household to come back accumulate his physique. But his dying certificates, which his brother supplied, stated that he had died greater than a month earlier than, on March 5.
The authorities have supplied no rationalization for the discrepancy.
“Without an independent, impartial investigation, Ayman’s family will never know the truth about his disappearance or his death,” stated John Hursh, a program director for Democracy for the Arab World Now, a U.S.-based human rights group, which obtained the identical images independently.
When Omar Hadhoud arrived on the hospital on April 10, he stated he was at first informed he might take his brother’s physique for burial the identical day. But then he was informed that the authorities had instantly ordered an post-mortem for just a few days later.
The images of Mr. Hadhoud’s physique have been taken after the post-mortem. But Omar Hadhoud and one other one who noticed the physique earlier than the post-mortem stated that they noticed the accidents and that they weren’t brought on by the post-mortem.
Four forensic consultants who reviewed the images, which have been taken surreptitiously, cautioned that they weren’t high-resolution and confirmed solely half of Mr. Hadhoud’s physique. Two stated they might not draw definitive conclusions about how he was injured.
But most of them agreed that the images confirmed accidents to his higher physique that would have been brought on by beatings and burnings.
Dr. Karen Kelly, a medical expert and affiliate professor of pathology at East Carolina University, stated the images appeared to indicate that earlier than he died, Mr. Hadhoud had obtained a number of small burns to his face, presumably from cigarettes, and might need obtained a blow to his face as nicely.
“Something happened to him prior to his death — possibly, probably torture,” she stated. “I am concerned that it was torture.”
She additionally stated that what gave the impression to be a comparatively small incision in Mr. Hadhoud’s chest within the post-autopsy images indicated that solely a partial, incomplete post-mortem had been performed, one that will not have detected proof of beating on his again or different inside accidents.
Members of his household, in addition to an unbiased professional, have been barred from observing the post-mortem, Omar Hadhoud stated.
So far, the authorities have refused their requests to show over the post-mortem report.
Vivian Yee reported from Cairo, and David D. Kirkpatrick from Washington.