Official investigations into the murder of the Coptic priest Fr Arsanius Wadid in Alexandria on the evening of 7 April is ongoing.
Fr Arsanius, a priest at the church of the Holy Virgin and Mar-Boulos in Karmouz, Alexandria, was dealt a deadly stab in the neck by a bearded man who carried a knife, as he stood on the pavement of Alexandria’s Corniche in the eastern district of Sidi Bishr. The priest had been with a group of young men and women from his church who were spending a day of leisure and spiritual activity at the beach; they had concluded their day out and were boarding microbuses home.
The culprit was a 60-year-old man whose name has not been made public. He was directly arrested and placed in police custody.
The general prosecution revealed that it had questioned 17 eyewitnesses who included staff and workers on the beach, and members of the group who had been with the priest. It had also inspected the scene of the crime, checked the surveillance cameras in the vicinity, received the after-death report from the forensic medicine authority, and ordered that the defendant be tested for any drugs he might have taken.
The eyewitnesses all confirmed that the priest had been with a group of young people at the beach and that, right before the crime, he was standing on the pavement checking that they all rode the microbuses that would take them back. The surveillance cameras showed the scene, with the defendant approaching as he carried a plastic bag. The witnesses said that he sneaked behind the priest, wielded a knife, and stabbed him in the neck. He tried to stab again but was overpowered by those present, who caught him, seized his knife, and handed him to the police. A number of the witnesses recognised the defendant as the stabber. The after death report revealed the cause of death of Fr Arsanius to be a stab in the neck.
The drug test showed that the defendant was free of any traces of drugs.
The prosecution questioned the defendant who at first orally admitted his crime, but later went back and said he had gone to Alexandria a few days earlier in search for work after having gone to several regions without success. He said he slept on the streets, and found the knife in a garbage heap so kept it to use for self defence. He claimed that on the day of the crime he saw the priest, but that he remembered nothing till those around caught him.
The prosecution said that, during the questioning, the defendant listened normally and replied coherently. He was asked about his social life, his university education, and the books he read. However, following his going back on his first acknowledgement of committing the crime, he claimed he had undergone psychological disturbances some ten years ago, which led to hospitalisation, and that he sometimes has no control over his deeds. Upon which the prosecution ordered him to be held in custody pending investigations, and had a court order issued to place him under medical observation in a public mental hospital to assess his mental status, and to determine if he suffered from any illness that might lead him to unwittingly commit the crime he did.
The prosecution is currently carrying investigations that involve questioning the defendant’s family and relatives.
10 April 2022