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Trial postponed for Egyptian police officers in 37 detainees' deaths

CAIRO, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- A court postponed the trial for Egyptian police officers charged in deaths of 37 detainees who suffocated to death in a police van in August.

The court postponed the case until Dec. 24 to hear defense pleas and consider a request by the victims' lawyers to move the case from the misdemeanor court to criminal court, Ahram Online reported Tuesday.

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The Interior Ministry confirmed on Aug. 18 that 37 supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi died of asphyxiation due to tear gas and overcrowding while they were being taken to Abu Zabaal prison near Cairo.

Security forces originally claimed the prisoners died during an escape attempt but a prosecution investigation found the claim wasn't true.

During the session at Al-Khanka Misdemeanor Court, victims' lawyers sought to have the case transferred to a criminal court and that the charges against the defendants be raised from manslaughter to premeditated killing, Ahram Online reported.

Attorneys for the defendants also requested testimony from several security personnel who were present during the incident.

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