2 militants killed in shootout in Egypt

2 militants killed in shootout in Egypt

2 militants killed in shootout in Egypt

A Cairo criminal court on Saturday sentenced to death 28 people over the 2015 killing of Egypt's top prosecutor and handed 15 others jail sentences of 25 years each.

The court last month referred the sentence of 31 persons to the Grand Mufti, the country's highest Islamic official who gives the religious judgment of all preliminary death sentences.

Public prosecutor Hisham Barakat was killed in a auto bomb attack on his convoy in the capital, an operation for which Egypt blamed the Muslim Brotherhood and Gaza-based Hamas militants. Both groups have denied it. The mufti's guidance is required when a court seeks the death penalty but his decision is not binding. The sentences are now open for appeal, the court said.

"The verdicts were shocking today", said one of the defence lawyers, Ahmed Saad.

The court also sentenced 15 others to life in prison and sentenced eight individuals to 15 years in prison.

The defendants said they were forced to confess under torture and their lawyers asked that they be medically examined.

The Sinai Peninsula has remained the epicenter of a deadly militant insurgency since mid-2013, when Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's first freely-elected president, was ousted in a military coup.

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