According to a new forensic report, all 37 pro-Moahmed Morsi prisoners killed en route to Abo Zaabal Prison on 18 August died of suffocation from tear gas, reported news website Aswat Masriya.
The report by the Forensic Medical Authority, published on Monday by the newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm, indicated that the type of gas that caused the prisoners’ deaths is known as CS, a common agent found in riot control agents. The report adds that the deaths came after a long period of inhalation of the gas.
The forensic report runs counter to a 19 August statement by the pro-Morsi National Coalition to Support Legitimacy which said that the bodies of prisoners showed signs of burns, bullet wounds and torture.
Human rights lawyer Osama Al-Mahdy examined the corpses at the morgue the day after the incident. He said suffocation was evident.
“What I’m sure of is that there aren’t any signs of bullets in the corpses,” said Al-Mahdy. “It seems that the prisoners really died of suffocation since their faces are really blue.”
The official forensic report was sent to the public prosecutor’s office as part of an investigation into the incident.
The Ministry of Interior claimed that the inmates died after tear gas was used to prevent an escape attempt.
The incident was condemned both domestically and internationally. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon strongly condemned the incident at the time, saying he was “deeply disturbed.”
Anti-torture organisation Watan Bela Ta’azeeb, or Torture-Free State, accused the ministry of “torturing and exterminating” 52 prisoners, disputing the ministry’s claim of 37.
According to the US National Library of Medicine, side effects of CS gas include eye irritation and burning, coughing, increased mucous secretion, severe headaches, dizziness, tightness of the chest, difficulty breathing, skin reactions and excessive salivation.