The Egyptian Court of Cassation, the country’s highest appellate court, on Monday upheld the conviction of nine individuals for their involvement in the assassination of Hisham Barakat, the country’s chief prosecutor.
Barakat was killed in 2015 after his vehicle convoy was struck by a car bomb in the streets of Cairo. Barakat remains the most senior government official killed by militants in the country since the 2013 Egyptian coup.
The lower criminal court sentenced a total of 28 defendants to death in connection to the assassination. An additional 15 defendants were sentenced to life in prison, eight were sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment, and yet another 15 were sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment. Of these defendants, a total of 13 were tried in absentia as law enforcement officials were not able to locate them in order for them to stand trial. Those who were tried in their absence will be entitled to a new trial if they are ever located and apprehended by law enforcement.
The charges levied against an individual who died while being detained by the Egyptian authorities were dropped.
In their ruling, the Court of Cassation upheld the death sentences of nine of the defendants. The court also reduced the life sentences of four defendants down to 15 years and another defendant’s life sentence down to three years. The sentences of those tried in their absence were not considered by the high court.
Commentators have noted that there were no credible leads in regards to who orchestrated the bombing of Barakat’s convoy. Despite this, authorities argued that the attacks were carried out by the Islamic Brotherhood movement in Egypt. During his time in office, Barakat heavily pursued and prosecuted hundreds of members of the Islamic Brotherhood. Many of these convictions resulted in the death penalty for those tried. Some Egyptian commentators have argued that Barakat’s prosecutions were largely politically motivated and in-line with President el-Sisi’s policies of cracking down on internal opposition.