British airline pilot loses court bid to blame his wife for ‘crushing their baby daughter’s brain’ as Kazakhstan judge rules he killed the child and must serve 20 years in jail
- Mohamed Barakat, 42, lost appeal against his conviction for murdering his baby
- Barakat faces 20 years in jail for ‘crushing the brains’ of his daughter Sophia, one
- Barakat’s wife Madina, 24, had changed her testimony to support her husband
- His appeal claimed Madina committed perjury and should be a murder suspect
- Barakat will serve his entire jail sentence in Kazakhstan, court authorities said
A British airline captain lost an appeal on Tuesday against his conviction for murdering his daughter as a court in Kazakhstan rejected his dramatic bid to blame his wife for their baby’s death.
Mohamed Barakat, 42, faces 20 years in jail for ‘crushing the brains’ of British girl Sophia by banging her head against a wall in a drink and drug fuelled frenzy at a five-star hotel.
The Airbus captain’s lawyers made a fresh claim in the Almaty appeal hearing that his wife Madina, 24, had committed perjury against her husband and should be treated as a murder suspect.
Mohamed Barakat, 42, (pictured with wife Madina, 24) lost an appeal on Tuesday against his conviction for murdering his daughter and he faces 20 years in a Kazakhstan prison
Madina had told the court today that London-born Barakat was ‘the best husband and father in the world’ who ‘never hurt me or Sofia’, asking the court to overturn his conviction.
But judge Lyudmila Bektemirova left the wife speechless when she asked her if she understood her husband’s appeal alleging ‘that you killed your daughter, not him’.
Pale and shocked Madina replied: ‘How is this even possible?’
The three women judges rejected appeals from Barakat, his wife and British sister Sarah Barakat to overturn the December murder conviction.
‘The guilt of the convict was proved by the testimony of a witness – a hotel maid – that she heard the sounds of banging on the wall, after which the crying of the child immediately fell silent,’ said the judges.
‘More than ten witnesses testified that they saw the woman with the child in her arms, who ran to the reception and reported that her drunken husband had killed her child.’
His lawyers made a claim in the Almaty appeal that Madina (above with murdered daughter Sophia) committed perjury against her husband and should be treated as a murder suspect
The judges rejected his claim that – as a commercial pilot with a subsidiary of Hong Kong Airlines – he suffered from epilepsy, and had fallen on top of the child during a fit.
Barakat was not present either in person or remotely for the appeal hearing.
After the original December conviction, the pilot looked stunned at the verdict in the Zoom trial, while his wife was in tears.
Madina had sought to annul her testimony in the aftermath of the British child’s death which implicated her husband.
She claimed Barakat had killed Sophia in an ‘accident’, and wanted to rebuild their lives.
Barakat will serve his entire jail sentence in Kazakhstan, said the court authorities. On his release, he will be banned from entering the ex-Soviet state for five years.
The court decided that Madina had been beaten by her husband and left their hotel room after which he killed the child.
The wife then opened the door and picked up the motionless girl, rushing down to the hotel lobby in the early morning of 24 October 2019.
Madina had shouted: ‘He killed my child, he hit her,’ according to one hotel staff member.
Hotel staff said the baby was ‘blue’ and earlier, they remembered the girl as ‘always smiling’.
The wife collapsed in the lobby several times as staff called medics who found the baby to be dead.
Madina later reversed her previous testimony, saying: ‘I have no claims against my spouse Mohamed Barakat.
‘He could not hurt our child and moreover he was not capable of committing the crime.
‘I ask you to accept this statement as a basis for cancelling all the previous accusatory testimony made by me against my husband…
‘Mohamed is the most loving and caring husband and friend. I love him with all my heart.’
Court said Madina had been beaten by Barakat and left their hotel room after which he killed Sophia. The wife then picked up the motionless girl, rushing down to the hotel lobby (pictured)
She pleaded: ‘You would probably think what kind of woman am I who protects her spouse who allegedly killed the child.
‘However, this was not an intentional crime, he is not simply capable of causing harm, especially to Sophia.’
What happened at the hotel ‘could only be death by negligence during an epileptic seizure,’ she said.
‘Mohamed would not hesitate to give his life for Sophia. She was everything for him….It was an accident.’
Barakat received a maximum sentence under the criminal code because of the ‘aggravating circumstance’ of committing the murder ‘in a state of alcoholic and drug intoxication’, said the statement.
Madina (pictured on wedding day) sought to annul her testimony in the aftermath of the child’s death, which implicated her husband
He has described himself as ‘an innocent man in prison’.
In December, a Kazakh judge rejected the London-born pilot’s claim that he had fatally injured the child in an ‘accident’ while suffering an epileptic fit.
Wife Madina who initially told hotel staff that he killed their daughter before changing her testimony to say it was an accident, wept as the initial verdict was read out.
His guilt was proved ‘by the testimony of a witness – a maid who heard the sounds of banging on the wall, after which the crying of the child fell silent,’ said a court statement previously issued by press secretary Abay Zharylkasyn.
Barakat was found guilty at the virtual hearing in Almaty city court in December, looking stunned at the verdict as he appeared on Zoom.
The wounds were caused by ‘repeated impact with hard objects and surfaces, and could not be obtained from a fall’, said judge Bakhytkhan Bakirbayev at the time.
There was ‘no evidence’ Barakat had previously suffered from epilepsy, he said.
The trial heard evidence that the Airbus captain – flying cargo planes at the time of the incident – had a secret stash of cannabis in his hotel room, and had previously taken cocaine.
The pilot was also ordered to pay his wife £135 compensation, a sum that would likely have been significantly higher if she had filed a civil suit against him.
He was given 15 days to appeal the conviction and sentence.
Barakat faces 20 years in jail for ‘crushing the brains’ of British girl Sophia by banging her head against a wall in a drink and drug fuelled frenzy at a five-star hotel (above, CCTV footage)
Barakat had earlier told the court: ‘Just because you have the power to put me in prison, that doesn’t mean you have the power to make me guilty.
‘It means you will put an innocent man in prison.’
He said: ‘I would never hurt my own daughter. I was the first person who saw Sophia coming into this world… ‘I was going to teach her how to fly…’
Barakat’s legal team claimed dozens of procedural errors in the criminal investigation and the court case meant that Barakat did not receive a fair trial.
His lawyers made repeated attempts without success to seek a fresh investigation and replace the judge.
The murderer’s sister Sara said by video link from Britain that the pilot ‘must have suffered a seizure’.
She said: ‘We have no doubts in our minds or in our hearts that he is innocent.’
Barakat previously worked as a pilot for low cost Malaysian airline AirAsia.
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