Fourteen prison inmates died of food poisoning while being transferred from the northern Sughd province to Dushanbe on July 7, Prosecutor-General Yusuf Rahmon told reporters in Dushanbe on July 16.   

According to him, expert have not yet established the source of poisoning – whether it was bread or any other food product.  

Tajik chief prosecutor noted that forensics and autopsy experts had not found any signs of torture on their bodies.

“I responsibly declare that that no one of these prison inmates died after beating.  There were no any signs of violence or torture on their bodies,” Yusuf Rahmon said.   

He further added that earlier cases of food poisoning had also been registered in penitentiaries in Kulob and Khorog.  “But nobody died in those cases,” Tajik chief prosecutor noted.

Recall, some media outlets note that some of the inmates' relatives said earlier that they noticed traces of beatings and torture on the inmates' bodies.

According to the official version of the incident, the poisonings occurred while authorities were transferring 128 inmates, including eight women, in three vehicles from prisons in the northern province of Sughd to Dushanbe.  A statement released by the Ministry of Justice on July 8, in particular, says that 14 prison inmates died of food poisoning during transportation between penitentiaries.  During transportation, one of the prisoners reportedly shared three loaves of bread with 16 other inmates in the Maikhoura area of the Varzob district.  The prison inmates experienced nausea, dizziness, vomiting half an hour after consuming the bread.  Their health reportedly deteriorated when they arrived in Dushanbe.  Medical workers were able to save the lives of only two of the prisoners, according to the statement.  

Tajik officials did release the names of those prisoners who died the suspicious deaths. The men's ages and hometowns are also listed, but there is no information about the crimes they were convicted of.

The Prosecutor-General's Office has launched a probe into the incident