Egypt accuses Hamas of involvement in murder of top prosecutor

Friday 04/03/2016
Terrorism reaches its peak with ouster of Brotherhood

CAIRO - Egypt on Sunday accused the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas of being involved along with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood in last year's killing of the country's top prosecutor Hisham Barakat.

"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 reporters.

Cairo regularly accuses Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and is allied with the Muslim Brotherhood, of supporting attacks in Egypt.

Abdel Ghaffar said 14 people participated in the plan to murder Barakat.

"They were part of a cell of 48 people who had planned ... a big conspiracy" against Egypt, he said, adding that the entire cell of 48 people had been arrested.

"All those arrested are from the Muslim Brotherhood."

Barakat, 64, was killed in a car bomb attack on June 29 in the upscale east Cairo district of Heliopolis.

He was the most senior government official killed since jihadists launched an insurgency following the military overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

He was appointed after Morsi's ouster, and was seen as a staunch opponent of the Islamist opposition, referring thousands to trial.

Barakat's assassination, which has never been claimed by any group, came as a blow to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the former army chief who overthrew Morsi and won elections in 2014 on a pledge to wipe out Islamist militants.

After ousting Morsi, the authorities began a blistering crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood movement that has left hundreds of people dead and thousands jailed.

Hundreds more have been sentenced to death or lengthy jail terms after speedy mass trials.

The Brotherhood, the country's main opposition movement for decades, was blacklisted as a "terrorist group" in December 2013.

Since Morsi's ouster, Hamas has had strained relations with Sisi.