Thursday,24 May, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1345, (18 - 24 May 2017)
Thursday,24 May, 2018
Issue 1345, (18 - 24 May 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Holiday tragedy

An autopsy report into the death of Polish tourist Magdalena Zuk is expected to be released this weekend, reports Ahmed Morsy

Magdalena Zuk, a 27-year-old Polish woman, committed suicide at Port Ghalib Hospital in Marsa Alam on 30 April.

Zuk threw herself from the window of her room, yet two weeks later mystery still surrounds the precise circumstances of her death.

The police, hospital, hotel staff and the travel agency through which Zuk booked her vacation in Egypt maintain Zuk suffered severe depression that led to a mental breakdown. The Polish media, however, have claimed Zuk’s death is suspicious. Unsubstantiated theories abound, including allegations that Zuk was gang-raped before her suicide, or that she was murdered to cover up the rape. The allegations have been repeated ad nauseum, despite the absence of any evidence.

It has been reported that Zuk initially booked a holiday trip to Egypt’s Marsa Alam, 750 kilometres south of Cairo, with her boyfriend but travelled alone when it emerged her partner’s passport had expired. She arrived in Egypt on 25 April and was scheduled to leave on 2 May. Within days of her arrival at the Three Corners Equinox Beach Resort in Marsa Alam hotel staff say she began to act strangely.

“She seemed upset and depressed,” a member of the hotel’s staff told Al-Ahram Weekly.

Zuk’s behaviour was sufficiently erratic that Mahmoud Khairi, a representative of the travel agency which organised her trip, sent pictures to her family of Zuk dressed in a bathrobe crouched in the doorway of her hotel room. Her family agreed she should cut her holiday short and return to Poland as soon as possible. Zuk was taken to the airport only to be refused permission to board a return flight. Airport staff say her behaviour was sufficiently worrying for them to refuse to allow her onto the plane. 

The Tourism Police say Zuk was taken to a hospital following a bout of “severe agitation at the airport” which included her attempting to remove her clothes. When the first hospital she was taken to refused admission on the grounds it did not deal with psychological patients Zuk was transferred to Port Ghalib Hospital where doctors agreed to accept her as a patient until a family member arrived the following day.

CCTV footage from the hospital shows Zuk attempting to run away from a female nurse and four men — three of them hospital staff and the fourth an employee of the travel agency. When they try to restrain Zuk she lies on the ground and begins to kick the staff.

Hospital manager Mohamed Sami Gomaa told the privately-run CBC channel that Zuk had tried to throw herself from the window several times. According to Gomaa, hospital staff were forced to tie her to her bed but she managed to escape the restraints, attack the nurse observing her and jump from the window.

Hours before entering hospital Zuk made a video call from Khairi’s mobile to her boyfriend who recorded the video. The call, subsequently uploaded to YouTube, shows her “frightened, upset and crying”, according to one Polish media report.

“Madu, what did they do to you?” her boyfriend asks during the call. Zuk replies: “I cannot say what happened. Take me away, please,” before adding she would not be able to travel back to Poland alone.

The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement last week saying its consular service is “cooperating closely and fully” with the investigation into the circumstances of Zuk’s suicide led by Egyptian prosecutors. “The Polish Embassy in Cairo is closely following proceedings in the case of the death of Polish national Magdalena Ż," said the statement. “It is the responsibility of the Egyptian authorities to clarify the circumstances of the death. We are seeking full access to all relevant information, including medical records, which will help ascertain the cause of death.”

The prosecution office in Hurghada has given permission for a Polish investigator to observe the progress of the investigation. A polish doctor was also present at Zuk’s autopsy conducted on 10 May at Hurghada General Hospital. The final report, scheduled to be released this weekend, is expected to resolve the ambiguity of her death.

On Friday Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri received a telephone call from his Polish counterpart thanking Cairo for its cooperation in the investigation into Zuk’s death.

Meanwhile, Prosecutor-General Nabil Sadek last week ordered the Department of International Cooperation to prepare a memo of demands to be sent to the German authorities concerning the investigation into the death of Egyptian student Shaden Mohamed in Cottbus, Germany. Sadek is seeking access to autopsy reports and footage of surveillance cameras in the area where the 22-year-old student of the German University in Cairo (GUC) was injured in a hit-and-run accident, as well as reports of the official investigation carried out by the German authorities.

Mohamed was injured in Cottbus on 18 April during a visit to Germany and died days later in the hospital, according to German newspapers.

Horst Nothbaum, spokesperson for the German prosecutor’s office, said the driver was being investigated for “possibly causing death by negligence”, but a second investigation into possible racial motives was being considered after two witnesses came forward and reported they heard the driver shouting “go back to where you came from, and then you will not get run over.”

add comment

  • follow us on