Tajikistan probes poisoning deaths of 14 prisoners

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan (AFP) – Tajikistan has opened a criminal investigation after 14 prisoners were fatally poisoned while they were being transported between jails, the justice ministry said yesterday, suggesting that another inmate may have given them contaminated bread.

The incident happened last Sunday as more than a hundred prisoners, including eight women, were being transferred in a convoy from prisons in the north of the Central Asian country to jails in the south. The justice ministry said in a statement that a prisoner handed around bread to a group of 16 inmates travelling in one of the vehicles during a stop on the journey.

It said that “16 prisoners, who were in the back of one of the cars, experienced nausea, dizziness, vomiting” half an hour after consuming the bread.

Medical staff were only able to save the lives of two of the prisoners, according to the statement, which was relayed by the Khovar state information agency.