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26th of February : When King Mohammed V died following a suspicious surgery

On the 26th of February King Mohammed V passed away after undergoing a minor surgery. His death has raised several questions regarding the efficiency of the medical staff that performed the operation.

King Mohammed V./Ph. DR
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On Sunday 26th of February, King Mohammed V suddenly passed away. Shortly after Morocco gained its independence, the sultan who later proclaimed himself a king left Moroccans in a turning point of the country’s history. The official account suggests that Mohammed ben Youssef died following complications of a minor surgery. The king was only 51 years old when he died leaving behind Crown Prince Hassan II who was heading the government as his assistant.

However, the King's death was quiet suspicious. Decades after the King was buried, several Moroccan personalities and former senior officials questioned the sudden death of their sultan.

The official account

Officially, King Mohammed V died after a surgery he had undergone. In fact, the operation was a minor one that was meant to remove a growth in his throat. This account was backed by the former Prime Minister, Abdellah Ibrahim, who led the government from December 16, 1958, to May 20, 1960.

Reported by Hespress, an Arabic-language newspaper, Abdullah Ibrahim recalled that King Mohammed V had to travel to Switzerland because of a condition he suffered from. «Once in the European country, the king was diagnosed with ear cancer and his Swiss doctor told him that he did not need to undergo a surgery», said Abdullah Ibrahim. Back to Morocco, the King’s health deteriorated and the Swiss doctor was summoned for a surgery that was performed in the royal palace during a weekend.

According to the same source, King Mohammed V’s rare blood type has made the operation fail and lead to his death.

An inefficient medical staff

A different account, regarding the suspicious death of King Mohammed V, was made public in a TV show entitled «Shahid ala Laassr». Interviewed by Al Jazeera, Abdelhadi Boutaleb, a politician who held menistrial posts and was named councilor to King Hassan II clarified that the deceased king died because he suffered from tonsillitis and not an ear cancer.

«The doctors underestimated the inflammation, and decided to perform a minor surgery in a small clinic in the palace (…) it took place on a Saturday but the doctors realized that they needed surgical instruments and blood transfusion». According to the same account, Abdelkrim Al Khatib who was a surgeon, politician and activist at the time travelled in a private plane looking for blood. His attempt failed as it was the weekend, recalled Boutaleb putting the blame on the medical staff that performed the surgery.

In a different interview conducted by Al Jazeera in 1999, Mohammed Albasri, known as chiekh Albasri, a political figure and one of King Hassan II opposers denounced the death of King Mohamed V. He insisted that the doctors did not prepare well for the operation and failed in saving the King’s life. «A doctor called El Hadi Messwak, who attended the surgery told me that if they opened an investigation to determine the circumstances of the king’s death the medical staff would have been without doubt prosecuted», he said.

On top of that Albasri stated that the cardiologist did not attend the surgery which added on the situation. Although he was brought later, it was already too late.

Most recently and after being asked about his grandfather’s death, Moulay Hicham King Mohammed VI’s first cousin told Zamane in 2013 that his father, Moulay Abdellah boycotted King Hassan II’s allegiance ceremony. The young prince actually, demanded an explanation regarding his father’s sudden death. At the time King Hassan II refused to answer his brother’s question, telling him that he is not a doctor and that King Mohammed V reacted badly to anesthesia.

Several accounts have further questioned the death of the King; however, for Moroccans taking their sadness to the streets was the only thing that made them feel better. In a few black and white videos, the King’s funeral was reported.

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