CAIRO: “I am determined to overturn the death sentence against Mahmoud Sayed Essawy,” charged with the murder of two university students in 2008, lawyer Ahmed Gomaa told Daily News Egypt Wednesday.
“I am 100 percent sure that the Cassation Court will accept my plea,” Gomaa added.
On June 30, the Giza Criminal Court sentenced Essawy to death by hanging for the “deliberate [yet] unplanned murder” of Heba El-Akkad, the daughter of Moroccan signer Laila Ghofran, and her friend Nadine Khalid, for the purpose of theft.
The ruling was endorsed by the Grand Mufti of Egypt, reinforcing the unanimous verdict reached by the court based on the evidence against Essawy.
However, the death sentence can be overturned again within 60 days by another Cassation Court if it is suspicious of the validity of the evidence.
In April 2009, then-19-year-old Essawy was sentenced to death for the murder of El-Akkad and Khalid at the latter’s home in Sheikh Zayed city in Sixth of October governorate.
In February this year, the Court of Cassation overturned the death sentence, granting Essawy a retrial. The first hearing of the retrial was held in May 2010.
Gomaa said he will contest the second verdict based on the evidence used against Essawy including, but not limited to, the crime scene investigation.
In the retrial, Judge Mohamed Abdel-Rehim Ismail and the two counselors in charge of the case examined the crime scene in person. The examination confirmed the prosecution’s detailed description of the crime and how it was carried out.
“During this inspection, two policemen tried to climb through the window of the building where the two girls were killed. One policeman succeeded, while the other failed,” Gomaa said.
“This proves that Essawy may have not managed to reach the place. Based on the law, any doubt can be used for the benefit of the defendant,” he said.
However, according to the verdict justifications released Monday, all procedures followed in arresting the convict and searching his house were legal.
The court said it was certain that Essawy committed the crime the way it was described by the investigations of the police and the prosecution, stressing his criminal intent which deserves the severest punishment.
The court pointed out in a 45-page file that the prosecution delegated a forensic doctor to examine Essawy and prove that he was not subjected to any intimidation or physical harm to confess to the murder.
It mentioned facts about the case, the lawyers’ pleas and the evidence against the convict, including medical and technical reports.
“After the second verdict, I have come to realize that Essawy did not commit the crime,” Gomaa concluded.
“I visited him in prison before the ruling was announced and he was smiling, telling me that God could not be unfair to him.”