By Watani –
The killer of the Alexandria priest Fr Arsanius Wadid was on 19 April referred by the General Prosecution to the criminal court on charges of intentional murder and possession of a white weapon. The move was taken once the killer was declared responsible for his action, following medical observation at a public mental hospital.
Fr Arsanius, priest of the church of the Holy Virgin and Mar-Boulos (St Paul) in Karmouz, Alexandria, had been stabbed to death as he stood with a group of young people on the pavement of the Alexandria beachfront thoroughfare, the Corniche, on 7 April. His stabber was 60-year-old Nehru Abdel-Moneim Tawfiq, commonly known as Nehru.
When questioned by the prosecution, Mr Nehru initially confessed his crime, but then said he suffered from mental illness and did not recall stabbing the priest; he claimed a history of mental illness. The prosecution 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.
In its referral of Mr Nehru to criminal court, the prosecution said that it based its charges on all the evidence it found and the footage of surveillance cameras close to the scene of the crime. But mainly, the prosecution said, the charges were founded on the testimony of 17 eyewitnesses, and the report by the regional board of mental health which proved that the defendant was in possession of full consciousness and will at the time of committing the crime; he did not suffer from any mental or psychological disturbance during his medical investigation or at the time of the crime, which makes him responsible for committing it, the report said.
The prosecution said that the forensic report’s DNA testing proved that the blood on the knife used by the stabber was the same as the victim’s.
The report caused great comfort among Copts who had feared the killer might get away with his crime had he been pronounced mentally deranged.
Intentional murder or premeditated?
Watani talked to Sameh Zaghloul, lawyer with the Court of Cassation and the Supreme Constitutional Court, who represents Fr Arsanius’s family. The main question revolves around the question on all minds now: What next?
Mr Zaghloul said that further investigations into the crime are ongoing, given that there are yet unanswered questions. It is still not known whether the killer was a lone wolf acting on his own or was prompted to do his crime by someone else or some organisation perhaps. “Did someone provide him with the knife?” Mr Zaghloul asked? “That knife was especially sharpened to allow the killing; it was no ordinary knife.”
The lawyer also said that the definition of the crime was of utmost important. So far, he said, the killer has been charged with intentional murder. “Further investigations,” he said, “should make it clear whether or not the murder was premeditated. If the charge is premeditated murder, it carries a death sentence.”