CAIRO: Hossam Atta died in Tora prison due to swallowing a number of marijuana cigarettes, Mohamed Naguib, the deputy minister of interior for the Prisons Department, told the Dream2 channel program “Egypt in a Day” Monday.
Naguib said Atta received marijuana cigarettes from his mother on her last visit to him and that he died after swallowing them. Naguib also said that prison authorities transferred him to Qasr el-Aini Hospital to try and treat him.
He said prisoner visits allow prisoners to sit with their visitors without barriers, and that was what allowed Atta to receive the narcotics.
Atta’s brother told Al-Masry Al-Youm on Oct. 28, 2011 that his mother did visit Atta, but she had only given him a SIM card so that they could call him. A few minutes later, Atta was taken by prison officials and his mother heard his screams as he was presumably being tortured, his brother said.
Atta’s brother said the prison administration transferred him to Qasr el-Aini Hospital, but he died before reaching the hospital and that the prison administration did not inform the family of his death. They instead found out from other inmates.
Mostafa el-Ghareeb, an inmate who was with Atta in prison, broke his silence after two years and decided to testify regarding Atta’s death. Ghareeb said he was tortured and was threatened not to testify, but he decided to say all he knew, el-Watan reported on Feb. 28, 2013.
He said that Atta was brutally tortured by other inmates when his mother visited him and authorities tried to force her to leave until he died.
Ghareeb said inmates killed Atta by forcing a hose into his mouth and other orifices and pumping water into his body until it killed him. He testified to prosecution after an investigation of Atta’s death was reopened on Sept. 10, 2012.
Atta was a member of a poor family and his family was unable to visit him for three months because they had no money. They were also unable to hire a lawyer to defend Atta and get him out of prison, Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights member Adel Ramadan stated on the initiative’s website on Nov. 1, 2011.
Atta is not the first prisoner to die and be accused of swallowing narcotics. Khaled Said was a young man from Alexandria who died after police officers tortured him to death. Forensics issued a report saying he too died due to swallowing marijuana cigarettes. After images of his brutalized corpse were made public, the ensuing mass outrage helped spark the 2011 January 25 Revolution.
Alexandria Criminal Court sentenced two officers charged with torturing Said to 10 years in prison in March. This was after a lighter sentence of only seven years was handed down against them in 2012. The court decided that Said did not die due to swallowing narcotics but due to injuries to his head and other parts of his body, Al Arabiya reported on March 3, 2014.