The Cairo Criminal Court sentenced two men to death for the killing of a 24-year-old woman earlier this year in Cairo’s Maadi.
The death sentences are preliminary and will be confirmed after Egypt’s Grand Mufti Shawki Allam either approves or rejects the punishment, a non-binding legal tradition in Egypt for all death sentences in the country.
In a statement to Al-Masry Al-Youm, Hisham Amer, the lawyer acting on behalf of 24-year-old Maryam Mohamed’s family, said that the death sentence is “a victory for all Egyptian girls”. Amer added that Maryam’s family were relieved after the ruling.
The two defendants, along with a third perpetrator, were accused by prosecutors of deliberately killing Maryam Mohamed after an attempt to steal her handbag. A statement released by the Egyptian Public Prosecution in October revealed that Maryam died from sustaining head injuries after being dragged by the defendants’ car.
According to the Public Prosecution, Maryam was wearing the handbag and as a result of attempts to steal it, she was dragged by the defendants’ car until she hit a parked car, leaving her with serious injuries. An ambulance arrived 30 minutes after the incident, following which Maryam died. The statement added that a firearm and another weapon were found in the possession of the defendants.
The third perpetrator referred to in the Public Prosecution’s statement was not present at the scene of the crime. Instead, the third man was charged with assisting the two defendants by providing them with his vehicle for the purposes of carrying out the crime.
At the time of the killing in October, initial local media reports had indicated Maryam was killed after resisting sexual harassment and assault. This stirred outrage across Egypt, with many shedding light on the issue of sexual crimes which continue to occur widely in Egypt.
However, Egypt’s Public Prosecution, and later charges, did not reveal the incidence of any sexual assault or other sexual crime.