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Egypt to execute nine prisoners accused of killing public prosecutor: Amnesty

Men accused of killing public prosecutor said evidence was obtained via torture
Egyptian defendants accused of forming a militant cell that assassinated state prosecutor Hisham Barakat in 2015 sit behind bars on June 17, 2017, during a court hearing in the capital Cairo (AFP)

Amnesty International has called on Egypt to halt the imminent execution of nine prisoners accused of killing Hisham Barakat, Egypt's former public prosecutor, in 2015. 

The nine men have denied the accusation and told rights groups that Egyptian security forces had tortured them until they confessed to the crime. 

Amnesty said it feared that the accused face execution on Wednesday morning.

The rights group issued its warning after the nine men were moved from their prison cells to the appeals prison in preparation for their execution. 

"Time is running out to save the lives of these nine men," Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International's North Africa Campaigns Director said in a statement. 

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"The Egyptian authorities have an opportunity to do the right thing by immediately halting any plans to carry out these executions.

"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." 

The nine men had been among 28 men sentenced to death for killing the former Egyptian public prosecutor in an attack in 2015. 

Many of the men alleged that they had been forcibly disappeared and tortured to confess to the killing. 

The men attempted to appeal the death sentence in 2018 which had been denied by the Court of Cassation. 

Among the men sentenced to death,  13 men had been convicted in absentia, with one of the men being forcibly returned to Egypt from Turkey in January. 

In January, Turkish officials told Middle East Eye that it was investigating the deportation of an Egyptian citizen to Cairo after he reportedly sought asylum in Istanbul's Ataturk airport. 

Mohamed Abdelhafiz Ahmed Hussein, also known as Mohamed Abdelhafiz, was sentenced to death in absentia in July 2017 on charges of receiving militant training in the Gaza Strip as part of an alleged plot to murder Egypt’s former Attorney-General Hisham Barakat.

However, the 28-year-old was deported to Cairo on 17 January after airport authorities found that he held a forged visa, according to Yasin Aktay, a senior adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.