CAIRO: The Qena Criminal Court announced on Saturday that it has stepped down from the case of Girgis Baroumi, a 22-year-old Copt accused of raping a 12-year-old girl in the town of Farshout due to conflict of interest.
The same Court is trying the case of the three Muslims accused in the drive-by shooting of six Copts and a Muslim guard at a Church in Naga Hammadi on the eve of Coptic Christmas on Jan. 6, 2010. During investigations in the shootings, it’s been suggested that that the killings were a reaction to the Farshout case.
The defense committee had filed a request to refer the case to another judicial district on April 17 because of what they described as "the court’s decision not to respond to their demands".
The Court of Appeals refused the defense’s request and ordered that the current court continue hearing the case.
Peter El-Naggar, member of the defense committee, told Daily News Egypt, "the Court stepped down from the case because there was conflict of interest, because it is trying the case of the Coptic Christmas massacre at the same time."
He added that the case will be referred to another jurisdiction.
El-Naggar, however, considered the court’s decision "a negative sign".
He said, "The court’s decision to step down from the case after it’s refusal to refer the case to another judicial district predicts that the court’s verdict will be harsh on the defendant, so there would be no link or comparison between this heavy sentence and the sentence against the case of the Copt murders of Naga Hammadi."
The defense committee requested the re-interrogation of the rape victim and her parents at the beginning of the court session. Yet the victim’s defense committee refused this request and informed the court that the she hadn’t attended the hearing because she was sitting for her final exams in primary school and that she had already given her testimony.
In the case of the three Muslims accused of the Nagaa Hammadi killings, the Criminal Court decided to adjourn the trial until Monday, April 17, to listen to the testimonies of the rest of the witnesses including the victims’ families and to discuss the forensic report.