Thursday,19 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1253, ( 2 - 8 July 2015)
Thursday,19 July, 2018
Issue 1253, ( 2 - 8 July 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Hisham Barakat: The people’s lawyer

Al-Ahram Weekly

Hisham Barakat, Egypt’s prosecutor-general, was assassinated on 29 June after his motorcade was struck by a bomb blast in the Cairo suburb of Heliopolis where he lived.

Barakat graduated with a BA in law in 1973. He started his judicial career at the general prosecution in December 1973, before working in courts of first instance and courts of appeal. Former interim president Adli Mansour appointed Barakat prosecutor-general on 10 July 2013 after the then prosecutor-general Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud submitted his resignation. Barakat was to have remained in his post until 2020.

Barakat has been associated with a number of high-profile public cases. Most notably, he worked at the Port Said Criminal Court when the Port Said massacre, in which 72 fans died in a soccer riot in 2012, was presented. 

Barakat was also head of the technical office of the Ismailia Court of Appeals during the trial of members of the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, a group accused of killing an engineering student in Suez in August 2012.

Barakat referred former president Mohamed Morsi to criminal court along with other 14 Islamist figures on charges of incitement to murder and violence during fierce fighting which broke out at Al-Ittihadiya Presidential Palace on 5 December 2012.

In the case involving Morsi’s jail break in 2011 from Wadi Al-Natroun Prison, Barakat presented to court Morsi, Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie and former parliament speaker Saad Al-Katatni along with other prominent Islamist figures. Morsi, Badie and Al-Katatni were among those sentenced to death.

Barakat also refered to trial several Brotherhood members for spying for Qatar. Three leading Islamist figures — Mohamed Al-Beltagui, Khairat Al-Shater and Ahmed Abdel-Aati — were sentenced to death while 17 other MB members were sentenced to life in prison, among them Morsi, Badie, Al-Katatni, Essam Al-Erian, Saad Al-Husseini, and Safwat Hegazi.

Barakat ordered the freezing of assets of 14 prominent Islamists, including Badie, Al-Shater, Mohamed Rashad Bayoumi, Mohamed Ezzat and former Muslim Brotherhood general guide Mahdi Akef.

Barakat was the third prosecutor-general since the 25 January Revolution of 2011. His death marks the first assassination of a public figure since Morsi’s ouster in 2013.

A day before Barakat’s assassination, he banned newspapers from writing about 250 state security cases related to external funding, storming headquarters of state security in six governorates and seizing classified documents which could harm Egypt’s national security. On the same day, Barakat decided to refer fugitive Moataz Matar to court on charges of calling for the overthrow of the government.

In December 2013, the cabinet officially labeled the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group. The referral of hundreds of Brotherhood members to trial gave Barakat the popular name “The People’s Lawyer”.

Barakat is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son. His elder daughter is working in a private company while his other daughter was recently appointed a judge at a first instance and his son is a prosecutor at the state security prosecution.

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