As Egypt sentences Naira Ashraf's killer to death, a controversial lawyer comes to his defence

As Egypt sentences Naira Ashraf's killer to death, a controversial lawyer comes to his defence
3 min read
Egypt - Cairo
06 July, 2022
During the trial, the prosecution presented to the court 25 eyewitnesses, including students and university guards who witnessed the stabbing.
Egyptian convicted killer Mohamed Adel has been sentenced to death by hanging for the murder of his classmate Naira Ashraf. [Getty]

In what has sparked a debate over the past two days, retired lawyer Farid El-Deeb announced that he would defend Mohamed Adel, who stabbed to death his classmate, 21-year-old Naria Ashraf,  for rejecting his marriage proposal on 20 June outside the Mansoura university campus, located northwest of the Egyptian capital of Cairo during daylight.

The lawyer said that he made this decision after he had received requests by "samaritans from Egypt and Greece" who pledged to pay for the lawyer's multi-million-Egyptian-pound-fees. 

"We have 60 days to study the case and the verdict reasoning and come up with a defence to contest the verdict before the court of cassation. I’d rather not talk much about the case at the moment," Deeb told the local Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper following the verdict.

Deeb, a controversial attorney who defended late long-time ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak and his two sons and Israeli spy Azzam Azzam, said in previous media statements that he got provoked by the judge's strongly-worded statement prior to the primary verdict against Adel.

The identities of those who said they would pay the legal fees remain unclear. 

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Deeb further said that would not "defend a crime rather than a person accused of committing it."

"The judge who issued the verdict gave his personal opinion in the case, which makes him ineligible to handle the trial as he had personified it," he argued. 

The presiding judge gave a heart-touching speech in the previous trial session, before rereferring the case file to the Grand Mufti for religious approval of the death sentence.

El-Deeb said he will give his say about Adel's case after the final verdict is made.  

Social media users were quick to denounce El-Deeb's stance. The hashtag "Farid El-Deeb" has been trending over the past two days.

Another slammed him, tweeting:

El-Deeb could not be reached by The New Arab for comment at the time of reporting.

Meanwhile, an Egyptian criminal court handed down on Wednesday a death sentence by hanging to Adel  after receiving a religious edict of the Grand Mufti, local state-run Ahram online reported.

Adel confessed the murder to authorities and said the reason for his crime was that Ashraf had repeatedly turned down his marriage proposal.       

The prosecutor general referred Adel to the local criminal court only a few days after he had been arrested and interrogated. The case was referred to the Mufti two days after the trial began in what was dubbed by the media as "the fastest trial in Egypt's history".

The crime gained widespread press attention and social media outcry from various segments of Egyptian society including women’s rights advocates and controversial comments from clerics.

Following the verdict, one Egyptian Twitter user wrote:

Another tweeted:

During the trial, the prosecution presented to the court 25 eyewitnesses, including students and university guards who witnessed the stabbing, Ahram online reported.

The prosecution presented the testimonies of the victim's friends, family and classmates who confirmed that Adel stalked and threatened the victim after rejecting his marriage proposal.

Ashraf's family had previously filed several complaints before the local police station against Adel.

The prosecution also presented before the court the victim's mobile phone records and text messages that included death threats.

The evidence also introduced footage of the incident from CCTV cameras around the university.