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28 sentenced to death in Egypt over prosecutor murder in 2015

28 sentenced to death in Egypt over prosecutor murder in 2015

Egypt

A Cairo criminal court on Saturday sentenced to death 28 people over the 2015 killing of Egypt’s top prosecutor and handed 15 others jail sentences of 25 years each.

Public prosecutor Hisham Barakat was killed in a car bomb attack on his convoy in the capital.

Egypt blamed the Muslim Brotherhood and Gaza-based Hamas militants for the operation. Both groups have denied having a role.

In June, the court had recommended death penalty for 30 people in the case. It referred the recommendation to the country’s top religious authority, the Grand Mufti, for a non-binding legally-required opinion.

The sentences, confirmed by the court in Saturday’s hearing after the Grand Mufti’s approval, can be appealed.

“The verdicts were shocking today. They were more shocking than last time when the court recommended death penalty for 30 people to the Grand Mufti,” said Ahmed Saad, one of the the defense lawyers.

Egypt’s Interior Ministry released a video last year showing several young men confessing and admitting going to Gaza for training from Hamas, but some later denied the charges in court.

The defendants said they were forced to confess under torture and their lawyers asked that they be medically examined.

Egypt faces an Islamist insurgency led by Islamic State in North Sinai, where hundreds of soldiers and police have been killed.

The group has stepped up attacks on Egypt’s Christians with church bombings and shooting.

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