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Egyptian court sentences 31 to death over prosecutor killing logo 2017-06-17 2017 DW.COM, Deutsche Welle

© Provided by Deutsche Welle ZA An Egyptian court on Saturday handed down a preliminary judgment condemning 31 Islamists to death for their part in the 2015 assassination of the country's top prosecutor, Hisham Barakat (pictured on poster in above photo).

The death sentences still have to be referred to the chief Islamic legal authority, the grand mufti, who will issue a non-binding opinion required by Egyptian law in the case of capital punishment.

Barakat was killed in a car bomb attack on his convoy in Cairo on June 29, 2015. Egypt blamed the Islamist group Muslim Brotherhood "in coordination" with Gaza-based Hamas militants for the attack, though both have denied involvement.

Hamas last month put forward a new policy charter in which it dissociated itself from the Brotherhood, a shift that would seem to aim at improving its relations with Egypt.

Spate of attacks

Barakat was the highest-ranking state official to be killed by militants in a spate of attacks since the 2013 ouster by the military of President Mohammed Morsi, a Brotherhood leader who was Egypt's first freely elected president. Morsi was removed from power after mass protests against his rule.

Saturday's judgment is due to be reaffirmed on July 22, when the court will also issue its verdict on the 36 other defendants in the case. Fifteen of the 67 defendants in the case are at large.

tj/sms (AP, Reuters, dpa)

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