Repeated electrical shock torture of an Egyptian Christian accused of “proselytising” in Libya likely exacerbated his heart ailment, leading to his death in custody, according to sources close to the deceased. Ezzat Hakim Atallah, 45, died on 10 March in a Tripoli jail while in the custody of an Islamic militia group known as the Preventative Security Unit.
Atallah, who had run a mobile phone sales business in Benghazi, was arrested as part of a round-up of foreign Christians on 13 February. Seven Christians were arrested that week, four of them Egyptians.
Sources close to Atallah said he had a ‘serious chest condition’ that would have cost him his life under the repeated beatings and electrical shocks. Atallah was taken to a hospital once during his captivity, on 6 March, but he returned to jail after medical personnel were either unwilling or unable to properly treat him, they said.
Libyan authorities told his family he collapsed in jail and that he died of high blood pressure. The embassy of Egypt, a country where a majority believes those who leave Islam should receive the death penalty, has claimed he probably died of ‘natural causes.’ Atallah also reportedly suffered from diabetes.
Atallah leaves behind a wife, Ragaa, a 15-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter. Atallah was widely known in the Coptic community as a deeply committed Christian. ‘He was a very kind person,’ a pastor with ties inside Libya said. ‘He was someone who liked to help everyone.’ Sources: Assist News Service, Morning Star news