Ongoing violations of prisoners’ health: Mustafa Abd al-Baset is paralyzed and his condition requires medical release; delayed action puts his life in danger

Press Release

17 March 2013

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights held the Ministry of Interior fully responsible for the health and life of Mustafa Abd al-Baset Mohamed, who is serving a six-month prison sentence in the Zaqaziq General Prison. Abd al-Baset, a paraplegic, was paralyzed after a gunshot in his back severed his spinal cord. After visiting him in prison on 18 February with a doctor, the EIPR asked that the patient be immediately released on medical grounds. The doctor’s medical report found that Abd al-Baset requires full bed care, which is not available in prison, and that his life is at risk if he remains in prison.


Abd al-Baset was detained for a full month at the Zaqaziq police station, where even minimum treatment facilities are unavailable, including a clinic, a resident doctor or even a bed. On 19 February he was moved to the Zaqaziq General Prison. The prison hospital refused to admit Abd al-Baset and provide medical treatment for him during his detention at the police station due to the lack of medical facilities necessary for his case.


The medical report by independent physician Ahmed Shousha, written after he examined Abd al-Baset in the Zaqaziq police station on 18 February, states that Abd al-Baset is “a hospital case.” He is paralyzed in the lower body and is unable to control his bowel functions. He suffers from muscle atrophy in his left leg and manifests bedsores on his stomach and back, which make him susceptible to life-endangering blood poisoning. According to Dr. Shousha’s report, Abd al-Baset also shows an edema in the left side of his stomach that requires further tests to determine the cause. The swelling is exacerbated by his lack of movement in detention, which may also cause the formation of blood clots, including a lethal pulmonary embolism. Pulmonary embolism causes sudden death and the patient cannot be saved if it forms.


In his report, Dr. Shousha states that Abd al-Baset requires intensive medical care, tests and analyses of kidney and liver functions, CT scans of the stomach and kidneys and EMG scans of the left leg, as well as physical therapy and exercise to strengthen his muscles. He stressed that Abd al-Baset “absolutely cannot be treated outside the hospital.”

Dr. Alaa Ghanam, the program officer for EIPR’s right to health program, said, “Prison doctors, including the health inspector who examined Mustafa at the Zaqaziq police station, are authorized by law to transfer critical cases to a place where the necessary medical care is available.” Ghanam held these doctors and the Ministry of Interior fully responsibility for Abd al-Baset’s condition due to their failure to demonstrate the seriousness of his case in reports that form the basis of actions taken.


Due to fears that Abd al-Baset’s condition may deteriorate without proper medical care, the EIPR notes that the medical release cannot be delayed and urges the prison doctor to take immediate action to move him to an external hospital equipped to admit him. The Public Prosecutor bears responsibility for expediting the medical release procedures.


Abd al-Baset was sentenced on 19 January. The Zaqaziq police station refused to admit him because of his injury, but the order to imprison him in the station was issued despite the lack of necessary healthcare facilities. His family petitioned the Public Solicitor to move him to the hospital al-Ahrar Hospital for a medical exam and treatment and filed a request for a medical release with the Public Prosecutor. He was then twice moved from the police station to the Zaqaziq General Prison and the al-Ahrar Hospital, both of which refused to admit him, saying the necessary medical facilities were unavailable. As a result, Abd al-Baset was sent back to the police station.


The day before yesterday, an order was issued transferring Abd al-Baset to the Zaqaziq General Prison, but his wife told EIPR in a telephone interview that he is now enduring more suffering because the prison conditions are worse than those in the police station. She said that he had received no medical care and that the failure to change the diapers he wears has exacerbated his bedsores.


Abd al-Baset’s wife said that he was placed in a large cellblock in the prison—“not a hospital or a clinic”—with dozens of other critical cases. He sleeps on the floor after he was stripped of all his clothing except his underwear and diapers. She has been unable to deliver the medicine he needs, food or new diapers, and she is not certain she will find him alive on the next scheduled prison visit in 15 days.


The EIPR notes that Abd al-Baset is not the only case suffering from deficient medical care in prison and delays in necessary action. Prisoners sometimes lose their lives due to the lack of treatment, the most recent example being that of Hassan Shaaban, who suffered from diabetes and heart disease. He died in the Burg al-Arab Prison last week after entering a diabetic coma because he was unable to obtain insulin and the hospital could not provide it for him.