A 60-year-old man convicted of the premeditated murder of Egyptian church minister Arsanios Wadid had previously been a member of Gamaa Islamiya, an Islamist terrorist group.
Alexandria Criminal Court was told on 18 May that Nehru Abdel-Moneim Tawfiq had been detained several times between 1987 and 2008 for his activity with Gamaa, which is no longer active.
The court heard the testimonies of 17 witnesses who had been present when Arsanios, 56, was fatally stabbed on 7 April.
The attack happened as the minister guided about 35 young people from his congregation on board buses for the journey back to his church in the Muharram Bek district of Alexandria after a day out to the beach.
A witness told the court that Nehru cried out “Allahu Akbar wal-Hamdu li Allah” (meaning God is the greatest and praise be to God) as he rushed at the minister and stabbed him in the neck. “Allahu Akbar” is a traditional Islamic affirmation, and is often used by jihadists when they attack.
“[Nehru] tried to stab him again, but we confronted him,” said the witness. Arsanios died later in hospital.
Nehru denied the charge and refused to be defended by a lawyer. He initially confessed to the crime but later claimed that he suffered from mental illness and did not remember stabbing the minister.
This claim was rejected by the prosecution, which stated that medical reports showed the defendant to be sane and fully responsible for his actions.
The prosecutor added that Nehru was found in possession of a knife that had Arsanios’ blood on it.
The court issued a preliminary death sentence against Nehru and referred the case to the Mufti of Egypt, the most senior Islamic cleric, whose opinion is sought on any death sentence. The court will meet again to confirm sentence once the Mufti’s decision is received.