CAIRO: A 20-year-old blacksmith found guilty and sentenced to death for the murder of two university students in an upscale 6th of October City compound in November 2008, got another lease on life when the Court of Cassation overturned the death sentence at the appeal hearing Wednesday.
Mahmoud Sayed Abdel-Hafez Essawy, from the poor neighborhood of Rod El-Farag, was charged with the murder of 23-year-old Heba El-Akkad, daughter of Moroccan singer Laila Ghofran, and her friend Nadine Khaled, will now face a retrial in another court.
“We filed this appeal 50 days after the initial verdict, Ahmed Gomaa, Essawy’s lawyer told Daily News Egypt.
According to Gomaa, the appeal, which was accepted in the very first session, was based on the argument that the evidence presented in court against Essawy was false.
“The forensic reports showed traces of an injection in Mahmoud’s arms, explained Gomaa, “and I argued that the blood samples were taken by the police not by the forensics suggesting that blood traces attributed to Essawy were planted in the crime scene.
Gomaa said that the next court session is scheduled three months from now.
Head of the Cassation Court Judge Mahmoud Abdel Bary, presided over the highly controversial case that captured public opinion ever since Essawy was arrested in April 2009.
The session that began at 9 am ended less than half an hour later with the landmark decision by the court to drop the death sentence.
Essawy’s father told Daily News Egypt in a telephone interview, “Thanks god for everything. When he was sentenced to death I felt [there was] injustice and then when the verdict was canceled I was happy.
“I attended every court session minute by minute for a year and a half now. Imagine how his grieving mother feels, he is her son. I thank god and I trust that the judges will reach a fair decision, he added.
Heba and Nadine were both found stabbed to death in the Nada compound villa owned by Nadine’s family. LE 400 as well as their cell phones were missing.
Prosecutor General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud transferred the case to the criminal court after initial investigations linked him to the murder.
The court issued a death sentence against Essawy in May 2009 in record time, less than two months after he was arrested.