[JURIST] Egypt’s chief prosecutor, Hisham Barakat [JURIST news archive], was killed Monday in Cairo by a car bomb attack on his convoy. Barakat’s vehicle was attacked [Al Jazeera report] by a car outfitted with explosives that was remotely detonated when his motorcade left his home in Heliopolis. The prosecutor’s death marks the country’s first assassination of a senior official in 25 years, and seems to be the result of retribution attempts by Islamic militants in response to the governmental crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood [BBC profile]. It is believed that Barakat became a target as a result of his role as prosecutor against many Brotherhood members and other Islamists, including former President Mohammed Morsi [BBC profile]. An Egyptian militant group calling itself “Popular Resistance in Giza” claims responsibility for the remote detonation of a car bomb that proved fatal to Bakarat, however the claim could not be independently verified. While the authorities suspect the Brotherhood for the attack, they have denied all involvement.
Egypt has faced great political turmoil since the ouster of Mohammed Morsi in 2013, with an especially strong backlash against the Muslim Brotherhood and other Morsi supporters and Islamists. Egyptian courts have sentenced large groups of Brotherhood members to both long term imprisonment, and even death [JURIST reports]. In May, Morsi, along with 100 others, were sentenced to death [JURIST report] for their involvement in a mass prison break in 2011. In the immediate aftermath, 30 more members of the Brotherhood were sentenced to life imprisonment [JURIST report] in absentia. In early June, two of the Brotherhood’s leaders were arrested [JURIST report] after already having been convicted and sentenced to death in absentia.