Egyptian court sentences 31 to death over ex-prosecutor's killing


An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced 31 people to death for murdering the country's former chief prosecutor almost two years ago, state television reported.

The death sentences are a preliminary judgement and will be referred to the chief Islamic legal authority, the Grand Mufti, for a non-binding opinion, as required by Egyptian law.

The ruling was issued by the Cairo Criminal Court in the case that involves 67 defendants. Sixteen of them were tried in absentia. A final verdict for all defendants is scheduled for 22 July. The defendants were also charged with possessing explosives and conspiring with the Palestinian Hamas movement, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, to carry out attacks in Egypt.

Hisham Barakat was killed in a car bombing near his house in Cairo on 29 June 2015. He was the most senior Egyptian figure to die in a spate of attacks that hit the country following the military's 2013 toppling of president Mohammed Morsi, who hails from the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

Last year, Egyptian authorities said that members of the Muslim Brotherhood were involved in Barakat's killing in "coordination" with Hamas. Egyptian media have repeatedly accused Hamas of involvement in attacks in Egypt, including in Sinai, which borders the Gaza Strip.

Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, has denied the accusations.

Last month, Hamas unveiled a new policy charter in which it distanced itself from the Muslim Brotherhood, a shift apparently aimed at improving ties with Egypt. Dozens of the Muslim Brotherhood's leaders and followers have been given heavy-handed sentences since Morsi's overthrow.    (dpa)

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