A criminal court in Cairo over the weekend recommended the death penalty for 30 people convicted of involvement in the 2015 assassination of Egypt’s top prosecutor.
The court has set a verdict session for 22 July after it referred its recommendation to the country’s top religious authority, the Grand Mufti, for a non-binding legally-required opinion.
Public prosecutor Hisham Barakat was killed in a car bomb attack on his convoy in Cairo. The government blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for the attack. The group has strongly denied the accusation.
“The brutal conspiracy by hired hands to target the public prosecutor Hisham Barakat and assassinate him, where the corrupt and weak-willed forces of evil and tyranny conspired, could only be carried out by an unjust group that has shed innocent blood,” Judge Hassan Farid said when giving the verdict.
Only half of the defendants are currently in custody with the remaining 15 are reportedly on the run.
The Interior Ministry released a video last year showing several young men confessing to going to Gaza for training from Hamas. This was later denied by some of them in court after the defendants revealed they were forced to confess under torture.
Barakat was the highest-ranking state official to die in such an attack since President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi ousted the country’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.