A British pilot accused of beating his one-year-old baby girl to death in a five star hotel has claimed he ‘would never hurt my own daughter’, a court heard.
Airbus captain Mohamed Barakat, 42, faces a life sentence if convicted by a judge in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
He is accused of murdering his daughter Sophia by banging her against a wall in a drunken rage at the five-star Intercontinental Hotel in Almaty after a night out.
Kazakhstan state prosecutors have called for a life sentence for Barakat.
The commercial pilot pleads not guilty of murder and claims he is a long standing sufferer of epilepsy who had a ‘seizure’, causing an ‘accident’ which killed the British baby at the prestigious hotel.
British pilot Mohamed Baraket is accused of beating his one-year-old baby girl to death in a five star hotel and has claimed he ‘would never hurt my own daughter’, a court heard. Pictured: Baraket with his wife Madina
He is supported by his Kazakh wife Madina, 23, who changed her initial testimony to plead with the judge not to jail him, and says she wants to have ‘new babies’ with the accused man.
A hotel employee said that when she brought the motionless and blue-coloured baby down to the hotel lobby from the couple’s room, she shouted: ‘He killed my child, he hit her.’
But she told judge Bakhytkhan Bakirbayev: ‘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.’
Barakat told the judge before he retired to consider his verdict: ‘I was the first person who saw Sophia coming into this world.
‘We used to go to (her room) to smell her and watch her sleeping. I was going to teach her how to fly.’
He continued: ‘I dreamed about Sophia two days ago. When I dream I always hug her and she always kisses me. I still remember the feel of her skin.
‘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.
‘The judge asked me – ‘Do you want me to find you innocent’. That was his question. I am innocent.
‘Madina knows I am innocent. My family knows I’m innocent. The lawyers who stood with me – they know I’m innocent.’
His legal team told the court there had been dozens of procedural errors in the investigation and court process which had been unfair to the British man.
Baraket is supported by his Kazakh wife Madina, 23, who changed her initial testimony to plead with the judge not to jail him, and says she wants to have ‘new babies’ with the accused man. Pictured: Madina with her daughter Sophia
His sister Sara strongly criticised the investigation, and told the court by video link from Britain that he ‘must have suffered a seizure’.
She said: ‘We have no doubts in our minds or in our hearts that he is innocent.’
Wife Madina told the court she had been put under intolerable pressure by police investigators when she was in emotional turmoil about the loss of her child.
‘I have no claims against my spouse Mohamed Barakat,’ she said. ‘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.’
She said what happened at the hotel ‘could only be death by negligence during an epileptic seizure.
‘Mohamed would not hesitate to give his life for Sophia. She was everything for him….It was an accident.’
The judge is expected to give his verdict this week.
Shocking newly-revealed CCTV footage shows Madina Barakat, 23, carrying her ‘blue’ and ‘not breathing’ daughter Sophia, one, through the InterContinental Hotel lobby in Almaty, Kazakhstan
New footage emerged from the trial earlier this month, which shows Madina carrying her ‘motionless’ child into a five-star lobby.
One-year-old Sophia – ‘always smiling’ according to a court witness who saw her before the tragedy – was ‘blue’ and ‘not breathing’.
Madina pleaded with staff at the InterContinental Hotel in Almaty for assistance, briefly laying her daughter on the reception counter in CCTV footage revealed as part of her British husband’s murder trial.
The Kazakh mother sank to the floor and had to be helped up by a hotel security man who called an ambulance.
Madina then carried the child to a sofa in the lobby, but collapsed on the floor.
Hotel staff gave evidence that at the time she blamed her husband, Airbus 330 captain Mohamed Barakat, 41, shouting: ‘He killed my child, he hit her.’
In a startling new development, the pilot, who pleads not guilty, told the trial that he had a long history of suffering from epilepsy, and that Sophia died in an ‘accident’ in the hotel room when he suffered a ‘seizure’.
He indicated this condition was known to doctors in Hong Kong and Malaysia involved in his medical checks as a pilot, even though epilepsy is often a reason for not granting a flying permit.
His employer, a subsidiary of Hong Kong Airlines, has not responded to a request for comment.
Madina turns round and pleads with hotel staff for help after laying her daughter down on a sofa in the lobby
Madina lays the girl on the reception counter as a security guard approaches. She rescinded an earlier statement and strongly denied she now blamed Barakat for killing their daughter
He previously worked as a pilot for low cost Malaysian airline AirAsia.
Barakat also alleged that a senior police investigator attempted to bribe him, demanding $60,000 to switch the charge against him from murder to causing the child’s accidental death on on 24 October 2019.
The footage seen by the court in Almaty shows Barakat – who faces up to 20 years in court if convicted of murder – a day earlier carrying Sophia into the hotel alongside Madina.
The video finishes with a medic rushing to the tragic child who was soon afterwards pronounced dead.
Barakat told judge Bakhytkhan Bakirbayev, who quizzed the pilot on Sophia’s ‘injuries from multiple impacts’, that he suffered an epileptic attack which he had been prone to since 1996-97 after a car accident in London.
‘I had a seizure,’ he said.
‘I don’t remember anything about what happened to Sophia.’
He said: ‘You are asking me to give you information while I was in a seizure but I cannot give you any.’
Madina and Mohamed pictured on their wedding day
There was ‘absolutely no possibility that I ever hurt a single hair on her head,’ he said.
‘Conscious or unconscious, I would never, ever hurt my own daughter.’
He also denied being in a drunken rage following a night out or taking ‘illegal substances’ after evidence had suggested he could have been on drugs during several days in Almaty between flights.
Evidence from the wife suggested he had a stash of cannabis in his hotel room before the tragedy, although police found no evidence of this, and that previously he had taken cocaine.
Barakat also alleged the senior police investigator on the murder probe ‘asked me for $60,000 to reclassify the case’.
The same detective had concluded the death was an ‘accident’ yet also demanded $1,000 in cash from Madina so that she could speak to him in police detention, the suspect claimed.
‘It is an absolute disgrace,’ he said.
Madina rescinded an earlier statement and strongly denied she now blamed Barakat for killing their daughter.
‘I don’t believe my husband killed our daughter as there are no reasons and motives for this,’ she said.
Receptionist Marzhan Ilyas recalled the British girl before the tragedy.
‘I remember their daughter was always smiling,’ she said.
Sources in Kazakhstan have denied a claim by Barakat in court earlier this month that he had started a hunger strike.