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Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Trial postponed for Egyptian police officers charged in deaths of 37 detainees

37 detainees were killed in a police van in August on their way to prison, apparently due to asphyxiation

Elsayed Gamal Eldeen, Tuesday 17 Dec 2013

A misdemeanour court on Tuesday postponed the trial of four Egyptian police officers accused of manslaughter in relation to the deaths of 37 detained protesters in August, who suffocated to death in a police van.

On 18 August, the interior ministry confirmed that 37 supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi, who were arrested during the dispersal of the pro-Morsi protest camp at Rabaa Al-Adawiya on 14 August, had died of asphyxiation due to teargas and overcrowding while they were being transferred to Abu Zabaal prison near Cairo.

Security forces claimed the prisoners had died during an escape attempt. However, prosecution investigators have said this was not true.

The court postponed the case until 24 December to hear the defence's pleas and to look into a request by the victims' lawyers to move the case to a criminal court.

During the session at Al-Khanka Misdemeanour Court, the victims' lawyers argued that the case is under the jurisdiction of the criminal court and hence must be referred there.

They also requested that the charges against the defendants be raised from manslaughter to premeditated killing.

The defendants' lawyers have called for hearing the testimonies of several security personnel who were present during the incident.

Egyptian police have long been accused of using excessive force and torturing detainees. The January 2011 uprising, which led to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, started as a protest against police brutality.

The accused officers were arrested in October.

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