CAIRO: An official study by Egypt’s mental health authority says that 95 percent of murderers and serial killers claim insanity when they are put on trial, especially if they are likely to receive the death penalty.
“In anticipation of severe verdicts in the criminal court, lawyers usually resort to claiming insanity as a way out for their client, said Dr Mohamed Rakha, psychologist at the Abbassiya Mental Hospital.
“In this case, the prosecution office refers the defendant to a mental hospital where he is kept under observation and a committee of doctors monitoring him or her writes daily reports for about two weeks, he explained.
He adds that sometimes they need to extend the criminal’s stay for a while until doctors are ready to give a more accurate diagnosis.
According to the study, around 150 defendants are referred to mental hospitals every year, only five percent of which are actually diagnosed with some form of psychological disorder.
“Afterwards they write a report to the prosecution office, if the patient is seen as not responsible for their actions, then they spend their sentence at the mental hospital. . When they are released they are kept 28 days under observation so they wouldn’t commit other crimes, said Rakha.
Female criminals with psychological disorders are kept at the Abbassiya Mental Hospital and male ones are held at Al Khanka Mental Hospital.
“On the other hand, if the report shows that they are not suffering from any psychological disorder or that they do but are still responsible for their actions, then they are referred back to the prosecution office and put on trial, he explained.
“There hasn’t been an obvious increase in the rate of criminals who claim insanity; this has been going on for a long time, Rakha pointed out.
In October 2008, the Tanta Criminal Court had sentenced Ramadan Abdel Rahman (aka Al-Torbini) and Farag Al-Sayed (aka Hanata) to death for murdering their rape victims by throwing them off moving trains. They were charged with raping and killing over 20 street children.
The defendants’ lawyers had claimed insanity and they were both referred to a mental hospital, but the report said that they were fully responsible for their actions. Last January, an appeals court upheld the Tanta Criminal Court’s initial verdict, sentencing the two main defendants to death.