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Egypt economist dies, police denies ‘forced disappearance’

CAIRO (AFP) – Egyptian economist Ayman Hadhoud, who was allegedly detained in early February, has died, his brother told AFP on Sunday, as police denied “forcibly disappearing” him.

“According to official records in the prosecution, (Ayman) died on March 5,” his brother Omar Hadhoud, a lawyer, told AFP. “We got a call last night to retrieve the body from the Abbasiya” mental health facility.

The interior ministry meanwhile said on Sunday that Hadhoud was placed in a psychiatric facility on February 6, following reports he attempted to break into an apartment in central Cairo.

But his brother disputed this account of events, saying: “If he was breaking and entering, there would have been a court case.

“He disappeared on February 5. On February 8, a policeman from Al-Amiriya police station told us to come collect Ayman,” Omar Hadhoud said.

“The truth was they wanted to interrogate us,” he continued, adding that when his older brother Adel went to collect him, he was told Ayman would be held for a few more days.

“And then they completely denied detaining him.”

In the following weeks, the family received contradictory information from officials, before being notified unofficially in early April that Ayman was in the Abbasiya mental health facility in eastern Cairo.

Ayman Hadhoud was a member of the liberal Reform and Development Party and an economic policy advisor to the party’s founder Mohamed Sadat, the nephew of former president Anwar Sadat.

Mohamed Sadat has recently emerged as an unofficial negotiator on behalf of figures imprisoned under the administration of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Rights groups said Egypt is holding some 60,000 political prisoners, while Sisi and his supporters insist there are none in the country.