Three students expelled over top prosecutor’s slaying

Egypt’s state-run Islamic seminary, Al-Azhar University, has expelled three students accused of involvement in last year’s assassination of the country’s chief prosecutor.

Al-Azhar said in a statement on Wednesday that its President Ibrahim el-Hudhud decided on “final expulsion” of the three students after they were charged in prosecution investigations with involvement in the killing of Prosecutor-General Hisham Barakat last June.

Two of the students were enrolled in the university’s school of foreign languages – third year student Mahmoud el-Ahmadi Abdel Rahman and Mohamed Ahmed el-Sayed, who was in his fourth year. A third student, Abul Qassem Ahmed, was in year four at the school of Islamic call. A fourth suspect in the same case graduated from Al Azhar University last year.

Earlier this month the four men appeared in a televised recording, released by police, in which they admitted to having carried out the killing of Barakat in a car bombing near his house in Cairo.

They claimed that they had acted on orders from leaders of the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and had received training in the Palestinian Gaza Strip, ruled by the Islamist Hamas group.

No date has yet been set for the trial of the four, along with 10 others whom Egyptian authorities have said were involved in the same attack. All 14 are in police custody.

They are charged with carrying out terrorist acts and belonging to a terrorist organisation – a designation referring to the Muslim Brotherhood. If convicted, the defendants could face death.

Barakat was Egypt’s highest-level official to be killed since 2013 when the army deposed president Mohamed Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood.

His overthrow triggered violent student protests in some of Egypt’s universities. Several students have since been killed in clashes with police. Many others have been jailed and expelled by their universities.