Giza Criminal Court has sentenced four men to death for killing two persons: the 62-year-old businessman Abdel-Halim al-Nayedd and the Coptic nun Sister Athnasia, and intending to kill a third: Hamza al-Nayedd.
The sentence was referred for advice to Egypt’s Mufti, Sheikh Mukhtar Gomaa, the official invested with the authority of issuing Islamic legal opinion. This is a standard legal procedure in Egypt in cases that involve death sentences.
The killing took place on 5 July 2016.
Sister Athnasia from the convent of Mar-Girgis (St George) was riding with two other nuns, a female doctor, and the driver from her convent to another Mar-Girgis convent in al-Khatatba off the Cairo Alexandria desert highway. At 58 kilometers from Cairo, their car was caught in a crossfire between two cars that were driving by, the passengers of which were shooting at one another.
Mar-Girgis convent in Masr al-Qadeema issued a statement in which it said that Sister Athnasis lost her life on the spot after she was hit by a number of shots. The other passengers and the driver survived.
One man died, Mr Nayedd. He was driving home from the airport after arriving from pilgrimage to Mecca; his son Hamza, 22, was driving. The attackers waited for them to drive by and shot at them with automatic weapons. Hamza was injured in the leg and foot, but was moved to hospital and underwent surgery. Hamza said the attackers belonged to the Bedouin clan of Hassouna that was in dispute with his father’s family over a piece of land in the vicinity of Wadi al-Natroun. One of the Bedouin Hassounas had been killed and his family had vowed a vendetta.
Sister Athnasia, who was shot dead in the crossfire, was born in 1962 and took orders in 1992. She was the sister of the late Fr Yustus who was a monk and priest at the monastery of Anba Pola, and Fr Arsanius al-Malawani who is pastor of the church of the Holy Virgin in Salmaniya in the southern province of Nag Hammadi where the Malawanis are a well-respected family.
28 December 2017