Cairo court annuls mass killing sentence
Published 08/06/2014 | 02:30
A Cairo appeals court yesterday cancelled a prison sentence against a police officer convicted in connection with the deaths of 39 people last year during political violence.
In one of the most controversial incidents since the army ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi last July, 39 men described by the Interior Ministry as Islamists, Muslim Brotherhood members and their supporters died in what the ministry originally said was an attempted prison break.
But the prosecutor's office later said its investigations showed they died when police fired tear gas into the overcrowded police van bringing the men to jail.
The appeals court judge sent the case back to the prosecutor general and ordered a new investigation that could result in a new trial or in the case being dismissed.
According to the prosecutor's office, 45 people were crammed into a van made to carry 24 and subjected to tear gas fire. "This led to the death of 37 prisoners and the suffocation of two others," said its report issued last October.
An investigation by The Guardian newspaper concluded that not all of those in the police van were Islamists. Some were not even Morsi supporters, said The Guardian – but had just been rounded up in the chaos following the August 14 clearing of a pro-Morsi sit-in in a Cairo suburb.
Meanwhile another Egyptian court yesterday sentenced 10 supporters of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to death in absentia, but postponed the sentencing of its leader and other senior members.
Those sentenced were convicted on charges including inciting violence and blocking a road in Cairo during protests after the army toppled President Morsi last July. All 10 were assumed to be in hiding amid a state crackdown on the group.