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Trial of Egypt policemen in prison van deaths case resumes

Four policemen are charged with manslaughter in relation to the Abu Zabaal prison van incident in August, when 37 people died

Ahram Online, Tuesday 18 Mar 2014
Egypt
Riot police arrest anti-government protesters and members of the Muslim Brotherhood during clashes in Cairo, January 2014 (Photo: Reuters).
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A Cairo court resumes on Tuesday the trial of four policeman on charges of manslaughter and wounding in relation to the death of 37 detainees in a police van in August.  

On 18 August, the interior ministry said that 37 supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi arrested in protests had died of asphyxiation due to teargas and overcrowding while they were being transferred to Abu Zabaal prison in Cairo in a police van.

The court is expected to issue a verdict on the deputy sheriff and three other officers accused in the case.

Prosecution investigated the case, questioning seven survivors of the incident and another 40 people including police, forensic doctors and a representative from the justice ministry, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported.

Investigations showed that the police van transferring the prisoners only had the capacity to hold 24 people. At the time of the incident, 45 people were inside.

Security forces claimed the prisoners had died during an escape attempt. However, prosecution later said this was inaccurate.

Prosecution said the policemen dealt with the prisoners with negligence, recklessness and lack of precautions, breaching their duties to maintain citizens’ safety, regardless of whether they were suspected of crimes.

Egyptian police have long been accused of using excessive force and torture. The January 2011 revolution which led to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak was partially spurred by anger at police brutality.

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