The Criminal Court of Marsa Matrouh has handed extended prison sentences, including a life imprisonment sentence, to the six killers of the Copt Rani Ra’fat. Mr Ra’fat was murdered in April 2022 in the city of Dabaa in the coastal governorate of Marsa Matrouh some 320km west of Alexandria.
Sameh Zaghloul, lawyer at the Court of Cassation and head of the defence team in the murder case, said he would appeal the ruling. The defendants had been charged with premeditated murder, a charge punishable by a death sentence.
The crime dates back to 27 April 2022, when a 28-year-old Coptic teacher, Rani Ra’fat, was shot to death by a masked armed men in the town of al-Dabaa. The men then set his car on fire.
Mr Ra’fat worked at a school in Dabaa, and owned a shop on the ground floor of his house. The day he was shot he received a phone call following which he opened his shop. A Hyundai Verna private car stopped by; some two or three masked men inside opened fire on him, firing some 22 shots that left him dead on the spot.
The masked men fled to al-Dabaa regional road, then set fire to the car they used in the crime.
A few weeks later, a video footage circulated on social media of a young man who calls himself Faisal Abdel-Nasser Talban claiming he had killed Mr Ra’fat.
Mr Talban says he killed “the Christian” even though he never knew him, because he heard the young Copt was friends with Muslim women. He described the Christian as “mushrik bi-llah”, that is someone who worships other gods besides Allah [an allegation that Christians worship more than one god because they believe in the Trinity], and said he did this following a reading of the Qur’an that “put my heart on fire”. He repeatedly said it was unacceptable for a mushrik who doesn’t believe in Allah’s Prophet to liaise with Muslim women. Again, he stressed that he never knew the young Copt or the women he was said to have been in relation with, but that he killed him on a personal conviction without being pushed to do so by anyone.
Matrouh prosecution in December 2022 referred six men to criminal court, charged with premeditated murder of the Copt Rani Ra’fat Nour Khalil.
The defence of the main defendant, Faisal Abdel-Nasser Talban, had claimed that he was mentally deranged, but the court ordered that he should be placed under observation and investigation by public mental health authorities. The hospital pronounced Mr Talban sane and accountable for his actions.
18 December 2023