A Cairo criminal court has sentenced to death 28 people over the 2015 killing of Egypt's top prosecutor, also jailing 15 others for 25 years each. Saskia O'Donoghue reports.
An Egyptian court sentencing 28 people to death over the killing of a top prosecutor, and jailing 15 others for 25 years each. Hisham Barakat was killed in a car bomb attack on his convoy in Cairo in 2015. An operation for which Egypt blamed the Muslim Brotherhood and Gaza-based Hamas militants, though both groups have denied it. His killing amidst a tumultuous two years for the country, beginning with the toppling of former president Mohamed Morsi. Defense lawyer Ahmed Saad said outside court the verdicts were shocking. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) DEFENCE LAWYER, AHMED SAAD, SAYING: "Even Gamal Khairy, who is blind, was sentenced to 15 years. Others who had nothing to do with the assassination of the martyr Hisham Barakat, received life sentences. They were unrelated to the incident. We were surprised that the verdicts were so severe." Some implicated in the assassination say their confessions were forced under torture. Saturday's (July 22) sentences came after consultation with the Grand Mufti, the country's top religious authority. The mufti's guidance is required when a court seeks the death penalty but his decision isn't binding and the sentences can be appealed. Egypt faces an Islamist insurgency led by Islamic State in North Sinai, where hundreds of soldiers and police have been killed. But the group has increasingly targeted Christians with church bombings and shootings.