AFRICA/EGYPT - Egyptian court sentences man to death for the killing of Coptic priest Samaan. The Grand Mufti will have to approve the ruling

Thursday, 16 November 2017 middle east   oriental churches   justice   discrimination   religious minorities  


Cairo (Agenzia Fides). The North Cairo Criminal Court approved the death sentence for Ahmed Said al-Sonbati, the young man who on October 13, killed and stabbed Coptic priest Samaan Shahata in a peripheral street in Cairo. (see Fides 16/10/2017).
On Wednesday, November 15 – report Egyptian media sources – the documentation of the court proceedings was filed at the office of the Grand Mufti of Egypt, which will have to confirm the legitimacy of the ruling from the Islamic legal doctrine point of view. The court set the date to declare a final verdict to January 15 2018.
During the trial, the assassin confessed that he had premedidated the murder and had studied the priest's movements before attacking and killing him. Father Samaan was attacked by his assassin while he was in the car with another priest. The murderer forced him to get out of the car and beat him to death.
After the killing, some versions relaunched by Egyptian media had presented the assassin as a mentally disturbed person.
Representatives of the Orthodox Coptic Church, such as Anba Stephanos, Orthodox Coptic Bishop of Beba, al Fashn and Samasta, had strongly rejected those versions, which presented the killing as a violent act committed by a mentally unstable person. Before the trial, a medical examination certified that the assassin did not suffer from any mental illness, and was fully conscious when he committed the murder.
Coptic priest Samaan Shetata, married and father of three children, belonging to a diocese of Upper Egypt, was in Cairo to raise funds in favor of the poor of his region. After the murder, Coptic Orthodox Bishop Raphael, Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church, issued a statement in which, among other things, deplored the fact that many criminals and terrorists, authors of violence against Christians, were not affected by any form of punishment, while some were released after the arrest. This anomaly - emphasized Anba Raphael - contributes to spreading the impression that crimes against Christian citizens often remain unpunished. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 16/11/2017)