Ahmad Saeed Ibrahim al-Sonbati, a young man in his early 20s who had been a technician, was executed on 21 June 2021 for the premeditated murder of the Coptic priest Fr Samaan Shehata, 45, in October 2017.
Fr Samaan was pastor of the church of Yulius al-Aqfahsi in the village of Ezbet Girgis in al-Fashn, Beni Sweif, some 100km south Cairo. The murder took place in the satellite town of Medinat al-Salam east of Cairo. Sonbati was handed a death sentence in November 2017, the ruling was confirmed by an appeals court in 2018 then finally and approved on 9 November 2020 by the Court of Cassation, Egypt’s highest court.
The murder was a flagrant example of a hate crime. During investigations, Sonbati said he did not know Fr Samaan but he had decided to kill any Coptic priest, purchased a dagger, and lay in wait for one to pass by in a street leading to the local church. When Fr Samaan passed by—he was, incidentally, not going to the church but to a nearby warehouse whose owners had pledged donations for the poor in Fr Samaan’s village—Sonbati rushed at him, chasing him and repeatedly stabbing him till he breathed his last.
Investigations revealed that Sonbati did not suffer any mental disorder and that he was fully conscious when he murdered the priest.
For details on the crime:
22 June 2021