CAIRO: “I will seek again to overturn the death sentence against Mahmoud Sayed Essawy,” charged with the murder of two university students back in 2008, lawyer Ahmed Gomaa told Daily News Egypt Thursday.
Gomaa, representing Essawy, declined to comment on the verdict until he looks into the judge’s conclusions to be released within 30 days.
Afterwards, Gomaa will have another 30 days during which he can present a request for retrial.
The death sentence can be overturned again by another hearing of the Court of Cassation if it suspects the validity of the evidence against the defendant.
On Wednesday, Giza Criminal Court sentenced Essawy to death by hanging for the “deliberate [yet] unplanned murder” of Heba El-Akkad and Nadine Khalid, “associated with stealing a sum of money.”
The court order has been authorized by the Grand Mufti of Egypt, reinforcing the unanimous verdict reached by the court based on the evidence against Essawy.
The judge had earlier examined the crime scene with the two counselors in charge of the case. The examination confirmed the prosecution’s detailed description of the crime and how it was carried out.
In response to the verdict on Wednesday, Essawy called the verdict “unfair.” He refused to give further statements to reporters.
In April 2009, then-19-year-old Essawy was sentenced to death for the murder of El-Akkad and Khalid at the latter’s home in Sheikh Zayed city in 6th of October governorate.
In February this year, the Court of Cassation overturned the death sentence, granting Essawy a retrial.
The appeal was based on the argument that the evidence presented in court against Essawy was false. The first hearing of the retrial was held in May 2010.
Lawyer Hassan Aboul-Enein, representing Moroccan singer Laila Ghofran, El-Akkad’s mother, previously described the court’s decision to refer Essawy to the Mufti as a demonstration of “God’s justice.”
“The [judge] was quite patient, responding to … arguments and tackling all the aspects of the case [including] a reexamination of the crime scene,” Aboul-Enein said.
Meanwhile, Ali Essam Eddin, El-Akkad’s husband, filed a lawsuit against his mother-in-law, Ghofran, accusing her of false accusation.
Ghofran had accused Essam Eddin on more than one occasion of inciting her daughter’s murder.
“In 2008, Ghofran tried to involve my name in the case … telling lies in talk shows about my relationship with my late wife … but I withdrew my complaint at that time,” Essam Eddin told Daily News Egypt Thursday.
“Then during the retrial in 2010 she accused me again of being behind the murder of Heba,” he added.
“I did not have the chance to mourn my wife’s death [throughout this hassle],” he said.
Investigations, according to Essam Eddin, proved he had no ties to the murder.
Essam Eddin has also filed a complaint before the Public Prosecutor accusing Ghofran of publishing in the independent weekly El-Youm El-Sabe’ what he described as “unrealistic memoirs” written by El-Akkad.
“Nadine never kept a diary,” he argued.
Moreover, Essam Eddin claimed that Ghofran used the incident to gain more publicity as a singer.
“A few months after my wife died, she released a new album and a video clip at the time when I was conducting Umrah (lesser pilgrimage) to pray for the deceased’s soul,” he concluded.