Egypt executes 9 men convicted for killing public prosecutor

The state prosecutor Hisham Barakat died in a car bomb attack. Above, detectives inspect the explosion site. (AFP/File)
Updated 24 February 2019
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Egypt executes 9 men convicted for killing public prosecutor

CAIRO: Egypt on Wednesday executed nine suspected Muslim Brotherhood members convicted of involvement in the 2015 assassination of the country’s top prosecutor, security officials said.

The nine were found guilty of taking part in the bombing that killed Hisham Barakat, the first assassination of a senior official in Egypt in a quarter century. Barakat was also the most senior official killed since the military overthrew an elected but divisive Islamist president in 2013.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media, said the families of the men were told to pick up their bodies from a Cairo morgue.

A total of 15 people have been executed in Egypt since the start of the year. Three were hanged earlier this month for their involvement in the 2014 killing of a judge’s son in the Nile Delta town of Mansoura. Authorities executed another three for killing a police officer in Cairo in Sep. 2013. Rights groups decried the executions, saying the men were sentenced to death following torture and beatings to extract confessions.

Amnesty International on Tuesday called on Egypt to halt the latest executions, saying that some defendants said they were forcibly disappeared and confessed under torture.

“There is no doubt that those involved in deadly attacks must be prosecuted and held accountable for their actions, but executing prisoners or convicting people based on confessions extracted through torture is not justice,” said Amnesty’s Najia Bounaim.

Egypt’s highest appeals court upheld the death sentences in November. It commuted six other death sentences to life in prison. Death sentences were also handed down in 2017 to 13 defendants tried in absentia. They will be eligible for a new trial if they surrender or are captured. Turkey deported one of the 13 last month.

The Muslim Brotherhood was Egypt’s best-organized opposition movement for decades and won a series of elections after an Arab Spring uprising in 2011 ended President Hosni Mubarak’s nearly three-decade rule.

But President Muhammad Mursi, a senior Brotherhood figure elected in 2012, proved divisive, and the military removed him from power amid mass protests against his rule a year later.

Since then authorities have waged an extensive crackdown on Islamists, arresting and detaining thousands and leveling harsh sentences against them. The Brotherhood has been banned and declared a terrorist group.

Islamic militants have meanwhile stepped up attacks since Mursi’s 2013 overthrow. An Islamic State affiliate based in the northern Sinai Peninsula has repeatedly targeted security forces and the Christian minority. Another group, known as Hasm, which has targeted security forces, has been linked to the Brotherhood.

The assassination of Barakat recalled one of Egypt’s darkest chapters, when Islamic militants and the state security apparatus engaged in retaliatory killings for nearly a decade starting in 1990. That year, the militants gunned down parliament speaker Rifaat el-Mahgoub in Cairo, the last assassination of a senior official. There were attempts against other ministers until the insurgency was crushed in the late 1990s.


Iran, US tension is a ‘clash of wills’: Guards commander

Updated 23 May 2019
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Iran, US tension is a ‘clash of wills’: Guards commander

  • The commander said they will have a “hard, crushing and obliterating response” for their enemies
  • Tensions between Iran and US escalated after Trump restored sanctions

GENEVA: The standoff between Iran and the United States is a “clash of wills,” a senior commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards said on Thursday, suggesting any enemy “adventurism” would meet a crushing response, Fars news agency reported.
Tensions have spiked between the two countries after Washington sent more military forces to the Middle East in a show of force against what US officials say are Iranian threats to its troops and interests in the region.
“The confrontation and face-off of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the malicious government of America is the arena for a clash of wills,” Iran’s armed forces chief of staff Major General Mohammad Baqeri said.
He pointed to a battle during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war where Iran was victorious and said the outcome could be a message that Iran will have a “hard, crushing and obliterating response” for any enemy “adventurism.”
On Sunday, US President Donald Trump tweeted: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!“
Trump restored US sanctions on Iran last year and tightened them this month, ordering all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.
Trump wants Iran to come to the negotiating table to reach a new deal with more curbs on its nuclear and missile programs.
Reiterating Iran’s stance, the spokesman for its Supreme National Security Council said on Thursday that “There will not be any negotiations between Iran and America.”
Keyvan Khosravi was also quoted as saying by the state broadcaster that some officials from several countries have visited Iran recently, “mostly representing the United States.”
He did not elaborate, but the foreign minister of Oman, which in the past helped pave the way for negotiations between Iran and the United States, visited Tehran on Monday.
“Without exception, the message of the power and resistance of the Iranian nation was conveyed to them,” he said.
In Berlin, a German diplomatic source told Reuters that Jens Ploetner, a political director in Germany’s Foreign Ministry, was in Tehran on Thursday for meetings with Iranian officials to try to preserve the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and cool tensions in the region.