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Egypt hands death sentence to murderer of Coptic priest

People attend the funeral ceremony for the victims of the twin bomb attacks in Alexandria, Egypt on April 10, 2017. ( Ahmed Abd Alkawey - Anadolu Agency )
People attend the funeral ceremony for the victims of the twin bomb attacks in Alexandria, Egypt on April 10, 2017. ( Ahmed Abd Alkawey - Anadolu Agency )

An Egyptian court yesterday sentenced a man to death over the murder of a Coptic priest in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria in April at a popular seaside promenade.

Nehru Tawfiq, 60, was found guilty of stabbing to death 56-year-old priest Arsanious Wadid of the Church of the Virgin Mary and Mar Boulos and illegal possession of a knife. Wadid's killing sparked widespread anger in the country and is the latest incident of targeted killings against the Coptic community.

The perpetrator was found by investigators to have an Islamist and extremist background but his lawyers tried to argue that Tawfiq was unaware of his actions at the time of the attack. However, a mental health assessment concluded he had "no signs of psychological disorder" and was "fully cognisant."

According to Persecution.org, Egypt's Christian minority face increased levels of persecution during the religious seasons of Easter and Ramadan. Also in April, a Coptic man, identified as Rani Raafat was shot 22 times and killed by unidentified masked gunmen.

Alexandria's criminal court sentenced Tawfiq to death last month, however the verdict was subject to the approval of the Grand Mufti of Egypt's Al-Azhar, Imam Ahmed El-Tayyeb who granted it yesterday. The imam also extended his condolences to the Head of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros.

READ: Egypt frees 9 Copts who called for the rebuilding of their church

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