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Egypt revolution's latest martyr did not have to die: health minister, activists

Egypt's minister of health, human rights lawyers and activists all seek justice for Mohamed Mohsen Ahmed, attacked by pro-army vigilantes on 23 July

Mostafa Ali, Wednesday 10 Aug 2011
Mohamed Mohsen Ahmed
Mohamed Mohsen Ahmed, died on 3 August in Cairo
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Egypt's Minister of Health, Amr Helmy, has accused five public and private hospitals of grave negligence which led to the death of Mohamed Mohsen Ahmed, the latest martyr of the January 25 revolution.

 
Speaking last night to anchor Yousri Fouda on Egypt's ON TV, Helmi said that hospitals routinely refuse to admit those who need urgent medical care and fail to refer them to medical facilities that could save their lives.
 
Mohamed Mohsen Ahmed, 23, died on 3 August of complications from a serious head injury  he suffered two weeks earlier during the violent clashes that took place between anti and pro military council groups in the central Cairo district of Abbassiya.
 
On 23 July, Ahmed was one of around 3,000 peaceful protesters marching from Tahrir Square towards the headquarters of the ruling military council in Nasr City to voice political demands.
 
However, halfway through the march, vigilantes, who believed that protesters were armed, ambushed Ahmed and his comrades.
 
For two straight hours, as military police stood by watching, hundreds of vigilantes lobbed rocks and firebombs at demonstrators from side streets and nearby roofs, leaving over 300 people with serious injuries.
 
During the bloody battle, one unidentified attacker struck Ahmed on the head with a large rock.  Ahmed immediately sustained a life-threatening injury: blood clotting in the brain.
 
But fearing that rumours hospital management would arrest and hand injured protesters over to the police were true, Ahmed opted not to go to the nearby Demerdash hospital.
 
Ahmed’s friends took him by taxi to the Coptic Hospital, not far away from Abbassiya, only for orderlies there to turn him away, claiming they do not treat emergency cases.
 
Friends then rushed Ahmed to Al-Hilal Hospital, also close by. Doctors at Al-Hilal performed an X-ray and alerted him that he needed immediate surgical intervention.
 
But then -- in a bizarre twist -- El-Hilal's management told him that they had no available beds and therefore could not admit him.
 
Increasingly desperate, Ahmed and his friends tried Al-Salaam hospital in the district of Mohandessin, before returning across the Nile to visit a small private hospital back in the northern neighbourhood of Shobra. 
 
All was to no avail: neither hospital would admit Ahmed.
 
Every hospital that turned down Ahmed failed to refer him to other institutions that are medically equipped to deal with serious brain injuries.
 
Moreover, none of them offered an ambulance to help him continue his desperate search.
 
Finally, at around 1:30am -- 6 hours after he sustained his injury -- an activist physician, with the help of the minister himself, directed Ahmed’s friends to Nasser Medical Center.  
 
Helmi told ON TV that Nasser Center doctors performed the required surgery and managed to stabilise Ahmed’s condition for a number of days.
 
Nasser Center staff tried to provide the best in medical care for Ahmed, said Helmi, adding that he personally checked on Ahmed every day following the surgery.
 
Helmy added that he believes Ahmed could have survived but that medical incompetence ultimately condemned the young man to death.
 
Since Ahmed’s death on 3 August, the Ministry of Health and Population has suspended managers in the Coptic, El-Hilal and El-Salam hospitals pending further investigation on negligence charges. 
 
The ministry has also opened an investigation into possible criminal negligence for three or four other hospitals.
 
Helmi said that he plans to refer all findings of the ministry's investigations to the office of the prosecutor general in order to hold accountable all who contributed to Ahmed’s death.
 
Ahmed’s family has announced that it intends to file a criminal complaint against General Hassan El-Rowaini, a key member of the ruling military council.
 
The family accuses the outspoken El-Rowaini of inciting a riot that led to Ahmed’s death.
 
Lawyer Khaled Ali, representing Ahmed’s family, told Egyptian ON TV that El-Ruwaini’s public allegations that protesters marching on military headquarters were aiming to cause harm gave many people the impression that Ahmed and his comrades were potentially violent protesters.
 
Ali also accused the military police, the main arm of the military council, of complicity in Ahmed's murder. He said their forces blocked exits in and out of the ambush site, trapping Ahmed and his fellow protesters in, and did nothing to stop the vigilantes attacking them.
 
The prosecutor general is reportedly examining photos and videos that Ahmed’s fellow protesters gathered of individuals they believe threw the fatal rocks.
 
On 5 August, Ahmed’s family and friends laid his body to rest in his hometown of Aswan in Upper Egypt.
 
Ahmed’s friends and fellow activists also held a symbolic funeral for him on 6 August outside Omar Makram mosque on Tahrir Square.
 
Mohamed Mohsen Ahmed belonged to the activist group, National Front for Justice and Democracy. 
 
He played an active role in organising youths for various campaigns before and during the January 25 Revolution.
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