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Implications for Religious Minorities
Implications for Rights and Freedoms

Shi’a Murder Case

Court / Presiding Judge

First Review: Giza Criminal Court/Judge Motaz Khafaga
Retrial (for some defendants sentenced in absentia): Giza Criminal Court/Judge Motaz Khafaga
Retrial (for some defendants sentenced in absentia): Giza Criminal Court/Judge Motaz Khafaga

Procedural History

The court issued its verdict in the case of first review on June 13, 2015. When three of the men initially sentenced in absentia were located, the court reviewed the verdict as pertained to the three men and issued its sentence on February 25, 2016. On September 5, 2018, the court issued the verdict of the other two defendants sentenced in absentia.

Verdict

Upon first review, the court sentenced 23 defendants to 14 years in jail without parole; eight defendants were acquitted. In the retrial of the three defendants initially sentenced in absentia, the court sentenced the men to 14 years in prison without parole. In the retrial of the last two defendants originally sentenced in absentia, the court sentenced the two to 14 years in prison as well.

Summary of Reasoning

The case dates back to the June 2013 lynching of four Shi’a men, including prominent religious leader Hassan Shehata, when they were performing a religious ritual in Shehata’s home in Giza. A crowd threw petrol bombs on the house, which caught fire, and then dragged the bodies of the men in the streets. The defendants faced charges of mobbing with the intent to kill and murder.

Anecdotal Notes

Nineteen of the 23 defendants were sentenced in absentia. The lynching of Shehata and three other Shi’a men took place in the context of a broader envrionment of hate speech and incitement against Shi’a by media personalities and government officials.

Legal & Judicial Implications

The lynching of Shehata and three other men underscores the vulnerability of minorities in an environment in which the state has failed to sufficiently address the root causes of sectarianism.