CAIRO (Reuters) - A jailed Egyptian Islamist who is third in command of the Muslim Brotherhood suffers from “serious health conditions” and urgently needs medical treatment, the human rights group Amnesty International said on Friday.
Khairat el-Shatir is standing trial in a military court along with 39 other members of the Brotherhood -- Egypt’s strongest opposition force -- on charges including terrorism and money laundering.
Amnesty said Shatir was reported to be suffering from a serious leg infection complicated by diabetes, and that the infection was “caused or exacerbated by overcrowding and poor prison conditions”.
“Amnesty International is urging the Egyptian authorities to ensure that he receives the medical care he urgently needs,” the London-based group said in a statement that also criticised what it described as a continuing crackdown on the Brotherhood.
An Interior Ministry spokesman had no comment on the Amnesty statement.
The Brotherhood has reported on its website, www.ikhwanweb.com, that Shatir was suffering from a diabetic foot ulcer and had high blood pressure.
Ikhwanweb quoted Shatir’s daughter Zahraa as saying he had refused treatment at a prison hospital, fearing poor care. She said prison officials refused to allow him to leave jail for treatment at a government hospital in Cairo.
An Egyptian newspaper, the Daily News, reported earlier this week that Shatir’s family feared his leg may have to be amputated if the infection is left untreated.
Many analysts see the Brotherhood trial as an escalation of a government crackdown on the non-violent Islamist group, which won a fifth of the seats in parliament in 2005.
They say authorities want to stop the Brotherhood from making more electoral gains that could help it mount a serious challenge to the government of President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s longest-serving leader since Albanian-born Mohamed Ali Pasha in the 19th century.
Local and international rights groups, including Amnesty, have criticised the military proceedings as unfair, and Egypt has barred independent observers from attending the trial.
The Brotherhood seeks an Islamic state through democratic elections and operates openly despite having been banned since 1954. The 40 Brotherhood members on trial were the first to be sent to a military court since 2001.
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