CAIRO: Judge Mohamed Abdel-Rehim Ismail, who is residing over the double homicide of two university students last year, on Wednesday referred the man charged in the case to the Grand Mufti of Egypt, reinforcing a previous execution sentence.
A special session will be held June 30 to announce the final verdict, but the procedure of transferring a case to the Mufti is a strong indication that a death sentence will be declared.
Lawyer Ahmed Gomaa, representing the defendant Mahmoud Sayed Essawy, who is charged with the murder of Nadine Khalid and Heba El-Akkad at Khalid’s home in Sheikh Zayed, declined to comment on the verdict.
“I’d rather not comment on the ruling before the judge’s conclusions are declared,” Gomaa told Daily News Egypt. The judge is expected to give a detailed conclusion on June 30.
Lawyer Hassan Aboul-Enein, representing Moroccan singer Laila Ghofran, El-Akkad’s mother, described the court’s decision as a demonstration of “God’s justice.”
“The [judge] was quite patient, responding to … arguments and tackling all the aspects of the case [including] a reexamination of the crime scene,” Aboul-Enein told Daily News Egypt.
In the last hearing held Tuesday, Gomaa called for acquitting Essawy of all charges on the basis of false evidence and lack of motive.
“Two courts have already found him guilty. There is no way he didn’t commit the murder,” Aboul-Enein argued.
El-Akkad’s husband, Ali Essam Eddin, who at one point was accused of inciting Al-Akkad’s murder, expressed his relief. Although no charges were ever pressed against him, he said the “fair judgment that was repeated [by two different courts]” would fend off such accusations.
Ghofran had earlier accused her son-in-law of inciting El-Akkad’s murder. In response, he filed three lawsuits against Ghofran accusing her of slander and defamation.
“However, today’s verdict has proved that Essam Eddin has nothing to do with the crime,” Aboul Enein said.
Even though Aboul-Enein rules out the possibility of Essam Eddin continuing the lawsuit against Ghofran, Essam Eddin says he’s not budging.
“I will not change my mind about taking her to court,” he told Daily News Egypt on Wednesday.
“[Ghofran] harmed my reputation with her claims … which caused me psychological, social and professional damages,” he added.
In April 2009, then-19-year-old Essawy was sentenced to death for the murder of Khalid and El-Akkad.
The murder took place in November 2008 in Khalid’s home in Al-Nada compound in Sheikh Zayed in 6th of October governorate.
In February this year, the Court of Cassation overturned the death sentence, granting Essawy a retrial.
The appeal was based on the argument that the evidence presented in court against Essawy was false. The first hearing of the retrial was held in May.
The death sentence can be overturned again by another cassation court if it suspects the validity of the evidence against the defendant.