The Port Said Juvenile Criminal Court, headed by Councillor Ahmed Hamdy, found on Sunday the two accused of murdering five-year-old Zeina Arafa guilty and sentenced them to 15 years in prison.
Zeina was found dead on 13 November in her place of residence.
The Port Said Security Directorate, in a statement two days after her death, said that based on investigations, Mohamed Casper, 17, and Alaa Gumaa Ahmed, 16, had trapped the girl on her building’s roof with the intent to sexually assault her and when she screamed, they threw her off.
Casper was the victim’s neighbour and has been a suspect in five other felonies, while Ahmed is the son of the porter at the victim’s residence.
“The court ordered the maximum sentence but the family is devastated and her mother has been hospitalised after hearing the verdict,” said Moataz Al-Ga’abary, Zeina’s lawyer. “No verdict, even the death penalty, would replace the family’s loss.”
The court had postponed the verdict to 26 January 2013 to review the request made by the victim’s lawyer to review Casper’s birth details in an effort to have him tried as an adult.
Due to security concerns’ hindering the transportation of the suspects to court, the verdict was postponed to 16 February.
Al-Ga’abary stated that he made his request based on a tip from another lawyer, who convinced the victim’s parents he had a document guaranteeing the death penalty for their daughter’s murderer. Although the request resulted in the postponement of the case, the document was not provided by the other lawyer.
Zeina’s murder and attempted rape resulted in public outrage last November. There have been calls for the death penalty for the suspects by Zeina’s family, sympathisers and activists in solidarity with the slain minor.