World

Egypt ex-president Morsi buried in Cairo

By AAP Newswire

Modern Egypt's first democratically elected leader Mohamed Morsi has been buried in a small family ceremony, a day after suffering a fatal heart attack in court at a Cairo prison.

The Islamist ex-president's death after six years in jail under the military-backed establishment that ousted him in 2013 was likely to stoke the anger of his supporters in Egypt and abroad.

His Muslim Brotherhood, now banned in Egypt, described it as "full-fledged murder" and called for mass gatherings.

Egyptian officials denied accusations that his health had been neglected.

Morsi was laid to rest in Cairo on Tuesday next to other leaders of the Brotherhood, his son Abdullah Mohamed Morsi told Reuters.

"We washed his noble body at Tora prison hospital, read prayers for him at the prison hospital," another son, Ahmed Morsi, wrote on Facebook.

Witnesses in Morsi's home province of Sharqiya said hundreds of residents in the village where he was born had performed prayers for Morsi amid tight security on Tuesday, and afterwards chanted "Down with military rule!".

A number of residents were detained, a security source said.

Life appeared normal in the capital, where authorities have cracked down on Islamists and other activists since Morsi's overthrow.

Egyptian media, which are tightly controlled, gave the news little attention - only one newspaper, the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm, mentioned him on its front page.

But hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members in Turkey took to the streets of Ankara and Istanbul, some of them blaming Egyptian authorities for the death.

Morsi died on Monday aged 67 after collapsing in a Cairo court while on trial on espionage charges.

He had been in jail since being toppled after barely a year in power, following mass protests against his rule, and had been sentenced to more than 40 years on charges including leading an outlawed group, spying for a foreign country and terrorism.

In an address to the court lasting about 15 minutes, shortly before his collapse, he protested his innocence of the latest charges, objected to his detention, and said he was unable to defend himself because of rules around state secrets, according to a person present at the hearing.

Morsi's death is likely to increase international pressure on the government over its human rights record, especially conditions in prisons.

At least 60,000 people, including much of the Brotherhood's leadership, have been jailed on political grounds, according to a Human Rights Watch estimate.

A British parliamentary panel said last year that Morsi had received inadequate medical treatment for diabetes and liver illness and was being kept in solitary confinement, which could put his life in danger.

Amnesty International called for an investigation, saying Egyptian authorities had "an appalling track record of detaining prisoners in prolonged solitary confinement and in dire conditions as well as subjecting prisoners to torture and other ill-treatment".

The UN human rights office called for an independent investigation into all aspects of Morsi's treatment in custody.