Killer of Copts falls

11-03-2015 11:14 PM

Nader Shukry

The village of al-Shamiya in Assiut, Upper Egypt, some 350km south of Cairo has been the scene of public rejoicing since the police finally succeeded in catching one of the most notorious and fierce of the village criminals, the gangster Ashraf Halaaqa. Halaaqa, a 35-year-old Shamiya villager with no employment, had for years turned the lives of the villagers of Shamiya and its neighbouring village Sahel Selim into living hell. Given that the Coptic population of these villagers is mostly wealthy landowners and well-to-do traders, the Copts were especially targeted by the Halaaqa gang. He imposed hefty tributes on them, and kidnapped their men and children for ransom When they refused to pay up, several were killed; others had to leave town for fear of their safety.
Since 30 June 2013, Halaaqa committed some 20 crimes. He was sentenced, in absentia, to life imprisonment. He was accused in a number of murder cases; among his victims were the brothers Emad Lutfi Demian, 50, and Medhat Lutfi Demian, 40, who had refused to pay him tribute money; robbery, kidnapping, possession of unlicensed weapons; arson, and shooting.
The arrest of Halaaqa came as the last step in a long chase by the police in which he managed to escape several times. Perhaps searching will help. buy essays online In February 2014, the police raided the village and caught seven of his men, but he fled. Throughout the following months, two of his men were killed during shootouts with the police, among them was his cousin and right-hand man Salem Halaaqa.
The police heightened the chase till they caught him last week through an ambushes set for him at the entrance of the village. Once Halaaqa realised he was being ambushed he attempted to flee on his motorcycle right. He started to shoot at the police, but had to leave his motorcycle, and run to climb into a nearby house. But he fell on the ground and the police caught him. He was in possession of a machine-gun.
Halaaqa confessed his crimes before the prosecution. After he was caught, the Copt Wasfy Hishmat Makeen who had been kidnapped ten days earlier by the Halaaqa gang for ransom, was set free and returned home. The gang disbanded, the remaining members fled.

Watani International
11 March 2015

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