A British commercial pilot has been jailed for murdering his baby daughter at a luxury hotel in Kazakhstan.
Airbus captain Mohamed Barakat, 42, “crushed the brains” and fractured the skull of one-year-old British girl Sophia, a court heard.
He was drunk and on drugs as he beat his Kazakh wife Madina, 23, during a row, before killing their daughter.
The court had been shown harrowing CCTV evidence of Sophia’s mother carrying her unconscious baby into the hotel lobby, before she collapsed.
A judge today rejected the London-born pilot’s claim that Sophia was fatally injured in an “accident” resulting from an “epileptic fit”.
The wounds were caused by “repeated impact with hard objects and surfaces, and could not be obtained from a fall”, judge Bakhytkhan Bakirbayev said.
There was “no evidence” Barakat had previously suffered from epilepsy, he added.
Barakat looked stunned at the verdict in the Zoom trial at Almaty city court.
His tearful wife covering her face with her left palm as she listened to the verdict.
She had earlier changed her testimony to call on the judge to find her husband not guilty, telling the trial she wanted to have more children with him.
But key testimony from a maid at the five-star InterContinental Hotel in Almaty sealed his fate.
The maid “heard the sounds of banging on the wall, after which the crying of the child fell silent,” a court statement issued following the sentencing said.
Madina had earlier fled the hotel room after Barakat beat her, according to witnesses.
The maid went back inside and picked up the baby who was lying on the floor.
She “carried the child unconscious in her arms,” the statement said.
A receptionist had recalled how Sophia was “always smiling” after the family checked into the plush hotel.
Shocking CCTV evidence shown to the trial captured Madina carrying the baby into the lobby.
Ten witnesses told how she claimed her husband had killed the child, the judge said.
The child was ‘blue’ and ‘motionless,’ witnesses said.
The mum had shouted: “He killed my child, he hit her,” according to one hotel staff member.
Madina collapsed in the lobby as staff called medics, but her daughter could not be saved.
Barakat was employed as a pilot by a subsidiary of Hong Kong Airlines, and had been flying cargo planes at the time of the incident. He had previously worked for Air Asia.
The court heard how had a secret stash of cannabis in his hotel room, and had previously taken cocaine.
Barakat had insisted he was innocent, as his legal team claimed he had not received a fair trial due to procedural errors in the case.
Their attempts to seek a fresh investigation and have the judge replaced were unsuccessful.
The pilot 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.”
Barakat said: “I was the first person who saw Sophia coming into this world…
“I was going to teach her how to fly…”
Reversing her previous testimony, Madina said: “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.”
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.
“Mohamed would not hesitate to give his life for Sophia.
“She was everything for him… It was an accident.”
Barakat’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 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”, the court statement said.
He will serve his entire jail sentence in Kazakhstan jail.
Upon his release, he will be banned from entering the country for five years.
He was also ordered to pay his wife £135 compensation.