The first retrial session for four police officers was held on Tuesday by the Khanka Misdemeanor Court, where the officers are being tried for their role in the death of 37 prisoners.
The prisoners were killed after being arrested during the forcible dispersal of the pro-Mohamed Morsi sit-in at Rabaa Al-Adaweya on 14 August. After being detained for three days, they were transported to Abu Zaabal Prison.
While being transported, they complained of inadequate ventilation and allegedly began creating a disturbance, prompting the police officers to fire a teargas canister inside the vehicle. Of the 45 prisoners, only eight survived.
Maha Youssef, head of the Al-Nadeem Centre for Rehabilitation of Torture Victims’ Legal Unit and one of the lawyers working on the case, explained that “the officers were aware of the danger of using tear gas in a closed space, and that it would lead to death.” Lawyers have also repeatedly called for the case to be referred to a criminal court.
The Khanka Misdemeanour Court of Appeals had previously overturned in June the preliminary 10-year sentence for the vice warden of the Heliopolis Police Station, and the one year sentences for three other police officers.
The file was passed back to the Prosecutor General for consideration. The 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.