Tajik doctors establishing cause of death of 14 inmates in transit
DUSHANBE. July 8 (Interfax) - A forensic examination will establish the cause of death of inmates in transit from northern Tajikistan to Dushanbe, a spokesman for the Tajik Justice Ministry's Main Penitentiary Directorate said in a statement.
The list of 14 inmates who presumably died of bread poisoning was published by the Tajik official media on Monday with reference to the ministry's information.
Deaths of 13 inmates were reported earlier.
According to the agency, the Tajik Prosecutor General's Office has opened a criminal case over lethal poisoning of 14 inmates, and an ad hoc investigative team has been set up.
"Tajik Prosecutor General Yusuf Rahmon is supervising the criminal inquiry," the spokesman said.
In his words, the incident happened in the town of Maihura in the Varzob district on Sunday.
According to the agency, 128 inmates (120 men and eight women) were being transferred from Penitentiaries No. 3/3, 3/5, and 9/2 in Khujand and Istaravshan in the Sughd district to the cities of Dushanbe and Nurek, and the Yavan districts on board three prisoner transit vehicles on July 7.
The convoy departed from Khujand at 12:45 p.m. and arrived in Dushanbe at 6:20 p.m. local time (4:20 p.m. Moscow time), it said.
"The convoy made six stopovers. During the second leg of their travel, an inmate [...] gave three loafs of bread to 16 prisoners in the town of Maihura in the Varzob district. The bread was eaten, and 16 prisoners on board vehicle (with license plates 024 VA 01) felt nauseous and dizzy and started vomiting 30 minutes later. At 6:20 p.m. when the vehicle arrived at the premises of the investigative division of the Tajik Justice Ministry's Main Penitentiary Directorate, condition of the prisoners deteriorated. Sixteen persons were unconscious," the statement said.
Doctors saved two prisoners, it said.
"Unfortunately, resuscitation failed to save the lives of 14 inmates. The other 114 inmates were taken to designated penitentiaries without suffering any physical damage," the statement said.