Egypt lawyers urge prison deaths probe

Egyptian lawyers have called for an independent inquiry into the deaths of dozens of supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi while in police custody.

On Sunday, Egyptâ„¢s Interior Ministry said that 37 Muslim Brotherhood members died during an attempted prison breakout near the capital Cairo, saying the prisoners had been suffocated by teargas.

Authorities said the detainees died after police used teargas to stop a mass escape while a group of more than 600 detainees were being transported to the Abu Zabal prison on the outskirts of Cairo.

Å“Neutral investigation committees must be formed, not Egyptian ones … The real crisis is that the judiciary body is providing a veil to cover those who violate the law and sanction bloodshed,” The Associated Press quoted Ahmed Abu Baraka, one of the lawyers representing the 600 detainees, as saying on Monday.

The prisoners who were killed on Sunday were among those arrested when the security forces raided two pro-Morsi camps in Cairo on August 14.

The crackdown triggered a wave of violence in the country. Almost 900 people, including nearly 100 soldiers and police, have died in the country since then.

Mustafa Azab, the spokesman for a committee of lawyers formed to defend the detainees, said they had complained to the International Criminal Court in The Hague about the killings.

Å“We have submitted to the International Criminal Court reports of all the massacres and we will submit more … We will address the United Nations and all the entities that Egypt is a member of,” he said.

Å“We have a huge problem in the loss of neutrality among state institutions,” Azab added.

The Brotherhood, battling to reverse the overthrow of Morsi, held the authorities responsible for the killing of the prisoners, calling it “murder.”

“The murders show the violations and abuses that political detainees who oppose the July 3 coup get subjected to,” the group said.

Egyptian security forces have arrested hundreds of Morsi’s Brotherhood supports in recent days as the military-backed government has tried to end weeks of protests and to stamp their authority on the deeply polarized North African nation.

Egypt has been experiencing unrelenting violence since July 3, when the army toppled Morsi, the first democratically elected Egyptian head of state, and suspended the constitution and dissolved the parliament. The army also appointed the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly Mahmoud Mansour, as the new interim president.

The government in Egypt has been facing international condemnation over the killing of protesters. Amnesty International has called for a thorough and unbiased investigation into the August 14 massacre.

MN/HN

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Republished from: Press TV