The legal team of former President Mohammed Morsi’s family is looking to charge senior members of the Egyptian regime, which ousted the country’s first-democratically elected president in a military coup.
Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first-democratically elected president, passed away during a court hearing last year on June 17. Many in the top leadership in Cairo were aware he was suffering from a chronic illness and repeated calls have been made for his death to be investigated.
But things have not ended there. The Morsi family’s legal team headed by Toby Cadman, a well-known international human rights law specialist, will pursue senior members of Egypt’s military-dominated regime and its collaborators in the international arena to bring them to justice.
The general-turned-President Abdul Fattah al Sisi ousted Morsi and his government in a military coup in August 2013, with military forces killing hundreds of unarmed protesters and imprisoning thousands of opponents.
“What we are doing right now is putting cases together, gathering sufficient evidence to have a strong basis for those members of the Egyptian government responsible to be prosecuted potentially in the United Kingdom or another European country,” said Cadman, a British barrister, whose family is originally from Egypt.
“There are investigations, but obviously that would become apparent at the appropriate time,” Cadman told TRT World.
But charges could take time as Cadman’s legal team wants to make sure that the evidence is credible against senior members of the regime and its collaborators, according to the family lawyer.
Cadman is one of the co-founders of The Guernica Group and a Joint Head of Chambers at Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers.
As an international initiative, The Guernica Group seeks “to bring perpetrators of international crimes and grave human rights violations to justice; seize their ill-gotten assets for the benefit of their victims; and strengthen systems of accountability, truth-telling, reparation, and non-recurrence,” according to its website.
“If we are targeting senior members of the government, we have to ensure that they are within reach of this jurisdiction and they come to the UK, so they could be arrested and they could be charged. That’s what we are working at the moment,” Cadman elaborated.
The International Criminal Court (ICC), a global institutions which has tried high-profile figures in the past, would not be able to intervene in the Egyptian government’s actions because it does not have jurisdiction over the country, Cadman says.
However, the Morsi legal team will continue to push the case surrounding Morsi's suspicious death in the UN. Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, has worked on Morsi's death for some time.
“She (Callamard) obviously made her findings known to Egyptian authorities,” Cadman said.
“Dr. Morsi was held in conditions that can only be described as brutal, particularly during his five-year detentions in the Tora prison complex”, Callamard said in November along with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
“Dr. Morsi’s death after enduring those conditions could amount to a State-sanctioned arbitrary killing,” the group said in a press release at the time.
While Callamard does not have a mandate for a criminal investigation, she can help reveal some unknown aspects of the Morsi death like the way she did for the Khashoggi killing, says Cadman.
“She can make such recommendations as far as Mohamed Morsi is concerned,” Cadman emphasises.
Under the oppressive Sisi government, the current political reality does not allow any prosecution against individuals, who might be related to the former president’s death, in Egyptian territories.
“We know that’s not reality. That’s not practical. But that may change in the future. If there is a change in the government, we could see that individuals in the position of authority now — once they are out of office — could effectively be prosecuted,” Cadman says.
In early 2018, a British parliamentary group released a report, indicating that Morsi's ailing health would lead to his “premature death” due to “inadequate medical care, particularly inadequate management of his diabetes, and inadequate management of his liver disease."
But neither Sisi nor other Egyptian officials did anything about that, likely leading to his death during the 2019 court hearing.
Morsi’s death is “absolutely not a natural death,” says Cadman, who has counseled the Morsi family since 2018.
“We had requested the United Nations to intervene months before his death. We had raised serious concerns as to the state of his health. We had requested for him to have an independent medical examination,” Cadman says.
“There had also been calls from the UN to Egypt — as we understand it — all of that was prevented. Our position has always been that the manner in which he was treated in detention, the conditions he was subjected to, the withholding of medical care and food all contributed and caused his death,” Cadman views.
“For that we say that the Egyptian authorities are responsible for his death. So absolutely not, his death was not natural,” the lawyer concludes.