Abo Za’abal officers’ trial begins

Mostafa Salem
3 Min Read

The trial for four police officers was suspended until 11 November on Tuesday by the Khanka Misdemeanor Court, where the officers are being tried for their role in the death of 37 prisoners on 17 August.

According to El-Nadeem Centre legal coordinator Maha Youssef, “the trial was suspended as the attorneys representing victims through civil claims did not receive any documents related to the case.”

Youssef added that the attorneys representing the victims have been facing difficulties due to the “lack of cooperation” on the prosecutors’ behalf, saying that all information they received has been through media outlets.

“The Investigative Advisor to the case, who is in charge of all investigations, banned providing any information to all parties, [despite] no official decision to make publishing documents secret,” Youssef said.

The prosecutors charged the officers with manslaughter after their inability to prove their criminal intent in murder, which is a prerequisite in first-degree murder. Youssef confirmed that they would attempt a plea to change the charge to first-degree murder, explaining that “the officers were aware of the danger of using tear gas in a closed space and that it would lead to death.”

The prisoners were reportedly killed at midday after being arrested, following the dispersal of the pro-Mohamed Morsi sit-in at Rabaa Al-Adaweya.  According to reports, the 37 prisoners complained of inadequate ventilation which prompted the police officers to fire a teargas canister inside the vehicle, killing them.

The general prosecutor’s office had charged the officers with manslaughter, which according to Egyptian law, stipulates that the officers did not have criminal intent to commit murder.

Basma Zahran of El-Nadeem Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence confirmed the charges against the officers, adding that they have “received a number of authorisations from family members of the victims to represent them in court.”

The prosecutor ordered that the officers remain in preventative detention for four days last Monday and refused a complaint issued against their detention by the interior ministry.

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