Public prosecutor’s assassination echoes 1948 murder



Sun, 21 May 2017 - 12:50 GMT


Sun, 21 May 2017 - 12:50 GMT

Founder of the Muslim Brotherhood Hassan al-Banna (L); late public prosecutor Hisham Barakat (R)

Founder of the Muslim Brotherhood Hassan al-Banna (L); late public prosecutor Hisham Barakat (R)

CAIRO – 21 May 2017: An explosion rocked Cairo on June 29, 2015. Media outlets announced the assassination of public prosecutor Hisham Barakat after a car bomb exploded near his motorcade.

Last week, on May 13, the Cairo Criminal Court set a June 10 session to issue its verdict against the defendants charged with the Barakat’s assassination.

In many ways the situation evokes memories of the assassination of another judge in 1948, just a few years before the 1953 revolution that finally secured Egypt’s independence from the British.

Following the overthrow of former President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, Barakat sent thousands of Islamists to trial. After Barakat sentenced six militants to death, the Egyptian affiliate of the Islamic State militant group called for attacks on the judiciary.

At least three civilians were killed in the explosion that killed Barakat, which was strong enough to shatter the windows of nearby homes. At least eight others were also hurt in the attack and at least 15 cars were destroyed, according to state media.

The bomb, planted in a nearby car, struck Barakat’s motorcade as it was leaving his home in Cairo’s upscale Heliopolis neighborhood.

"This plot was carried out on the orders of the Muslim Brotherhood... in close coordination with Hamas, which played a very important role in the assassination of the chief prosecutor from start to finish," Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar told the press.

A similar situation surrounded the assassination of Judge Ahmed al-Khazindar, who was shot and killed in March 1948, also by members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Following attacks on British occupation forces by university students in Alexandria, Khazindar gave the defendants sentences between 15 years and life. The students involved were charged with involvement in major attacks using guns and explosives.

When Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, heard about the verdict, he asked, "When will God rid us of this man?" Members of the organization considered al-Banna's question a request to kill Khazindar.

Khazindar was shot nine times as he was boarding a train on his way to work. Two Brotherhood members, Hassan Abdelhafez and Mahmoud Zainhom, were responsible.

According to top Brotherhood member Ahmed Hassan al-Bakouri, who served as Egypt’s minister of endowments until 1959, Abdelhafez and Zainhom threw a hand grenade at eyewitnesses who started chasing after them. No others were killed.

The two assassins were captured and sentenced to life in prison.

Al-Banna, who never thought Brotherhood members would actually assassinate the judge, was brought in for questioning and shorty declared, "They are neither brothers, nor Muslims."

Sixty-seven defendants are standing trial for murdering Barakat; 15 are being tried in absentia, while 52 defendants remain in custody.

The defendants face four charges of being in possession of weapons and explosives, premeditated murder, association with a terrorist organization and vandalism of public property; the most severe penalty is determined to be issued against the defendants.



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