A little baby girl has allegedly been murdered by her pilot father in a five star hotel in a brutal episode of domestic violence.
Sophia Barakat, aged one, died while staying with her parents in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Her British father Airbus 330 captain Mohamed Barakat, 41, is accused in Kazakhstan of crushing the head of his daughter after drunkenly beating his wife.
He has strongly denied the charges and complained he is not receiving a fair trial in the ex-Soviet republic.
His Kazakh wife Madina, 22, and his legal team claimed the death of the couple’s only child was “essentially an accident”, and suggested the evidence against the Hong Kong Airlines pilot was “fabricated” and riddled with errors.
Barakat has been held in custody in Kazakhstan for 11 months since his arrest at the five star Intercontinental Hotel in Almaty where Sophia died.
In an earlier hearing he told the court: “I completely reject the (murder) indictment.”
Pictures online show the couple at their wedding party in Almaty which followed a marriage in Hong Kong four years ago.
One image shows Madina with the pilot when she was pregnant with Sophia, and another shows him with his Kazakh father-in-law Abdushukur Abdullayev.
The British man was detained after his distraught wife ran into the lobby of the plush hotel “screaming for help” early in the morning, according to the indictment.
Barakat repeatedly punched his wife on the head before she escaped into the corridor, it was alleged.
Sophia awoke because of her parents' fight and the pilot then turned his fury on the one-year-old, according to a report by Astana TV citing the criminal case.
“He walked to the baby's cot, took his daughter Sophia in his hands and forcefully hit the walls and doors of the hotel room with her head.
“Having made sure Sophia Barakat was not displaying signs of life, he put her on the floor by the entrance door of the hotel room.”
This is strongly disputed by Barakat's defence team.
Forensic experts established the child suffered multiple injuries and had no chance of survival in their eighth floor room, a remote session of the court hearing was told.
Her skull was fractured and her brain “crushed”, it was reported.
The alleged violent attack followed Barakat’s return from an all-night drinking session with a male friend. It was also stated that the couple had a fight over a failed apartment deal.
They had been hoping to move to Madina’s homeland, with him getting a job with Astana Airlines, a Kazakh-British carrier.
She told the court: “I have repeated many times that Mohamed could not have killed Sophia.
“From my statement it is clear that I was shocked, scared and stressed.”
“I had lost my daughter under terrible circumstances, and I did not have a lawyer,” she said.
“The police took advantage of this, forced me to testify ... They deprived me of the right not to testify against my husband.”
The pilot’s wife said she had been “threatened” with being made a murder suspect if she did not testify against her “wonderful” British husband.
The defendant’s British sisters Sarah and Nasrin Barakat claimed the pilot’s rights had been “violated” by the Kazakh authorities.
They insisted he was not a murderer.
They claimed the pilot had been the victim of a “witch hunt” accusing the detective leading the case of “grandstanding” to “become famous for arresting a respected British airline captain, accusing him of murder”.
This had “nothing to do with justice”.
The court heard Barakat suffered from “attacks” and could faint when stressed, the court has been told.
Earlier, his previous lawyer had argued that he had accidentally fallen on the child when she died last October.
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