The Port Said Juvenile Criminal Court headed by Councillor Ahmed Hamdy decided on Sunday to postpone the verdict related to Zeina Arafa’s case to 26 January in order to review the demand for a retrial by the victim’s lawyer.
Zeina’s lawyer, Moataz Al-Ga’abary, provided the court with documents clarifying Mahmoud Casper’s record of birth. In the documents, Casper’s birth date is different from that registered in Zeina’s case.
Al-Ga’abary said: “We demand that the accused be examined by the forensic office to determine his real age.”
If the accused is proven to be an adult, he will be tried before the Criminal Court, where the maximum sentence can reach the death penalty, unlike the Juvenile Criminal Court where the maximum sentence can only reach 15 years in prison, according to the law.
Al-Ga’abary said that any attempt to change the location of the trial would be illegal. He added that the trial is not as major as that pertaining to the “Ultras massacre”, where several defendants had been sentenced to death and the trial was moved to Cairo for security reasons.
“The police said that they are capable of securing the trial,” Al-Ga’abary said.
The Egyptian Coalition on Children’s Rights issued a statement earlier in December demanding that the court be relocated outside Port Said to ensure a fair trial for the suspects, away from pressures by Zeina sympathisers.
Five-year-old Zeina Arafa was found dead on 13 November in her place of residence. The Port Said Security Directorate, in a statement two days after her death, said that based on investigations, the accused had trapped the girl on her building’s roof with the intent to sexually assault her and when she screamed, they threw her off.
Mahmoud Casper’s defence lawyer withdrew from the case during the trial’s second session; a lawyer was delegated from the Lawyers’ Syndicate to represent both defendants.
Mohamed Al-Ga’abary is the only lawyer representing Zeina. He is the lawyer of Zeina’s father and uncle and was among those who were searching for the five-year-old when her family had initially assumed she had been kidnapped.
“I only started to talk to the media when I realised that there are conflicting statements by different lawyers claiming to be representing Zeina, which could only harm my case,” Al-Ga’abary said.