CAIRO: The South Cairo Court on Saturday adjourned until Oct. 23 the Maadi ferry accident case, which killed nine girls and injured two last July.
The judge did not attend the hearing, but assigned a deputy to announce the court’s decision without giving further details.
Defendant and ferry Captain Ali Eweis, appealed a previous 10-year prison sentence for involuntary manslaughter, injury to others and possession of an unlicensed boat.
Islamist lawyer Montasser Al-Zayyat, joined the team representing the 18-year-old defendant last month, which raised speculation that the case will have a sectarian slant as all the victims were Christian.
However Al-Zayyat denied these speculations: “I took the case because the defendant’s parents asked me to and gave me power of attorney, there were no other misconceptions involved,” he told Daily News Egypt.
Adawi Abdel Nabi, the defendant’s lawyer, previously implied to Daily News Egypt that the harsh sentence handed down to Eweis was politically-motivated because the victims are Christian.
However, lawyer Peter Al-Naggar, representing the victims’ families rejected the angle altogether.
“This case has no religious angle whatsoever. Insinuating that will amount to nothing, we know the defendant didn’t intend to kill those girls. He might not have even realized they were all Christian to begin with, that’s why he’s convicted with manslaughter not murder,” Al-Naggar told Daily News Egypt.
“Sure Montasser Al-Zayyat represented the Muslim Brotherhood before, but this is a completely different case. He’s entitled to handle cases that have no religious affiliation if he pleases,” he added.
Al-Naggar stressed that the verdict was justified as the defendant was found guilty of five crimes, including manslaughter and putting people’s lives in danger.
The accident took place on July 16, when Eweis rented out his older brother’s small boat to 15 school girls and their supervisors, in a church-organized trip.
Although the boat could only hold six people, Eweis allowed all the girls on board despite the risk.
Eweis however points the finger of blame on the supervisors, who according insisted that the whole group stay together with their supervisors despite his warnings.
The boat sank only a few meters from the bank, after which Eweis jumped off and the girls were left to drown.