Five-Year Sentence for Police Officers Who Threw Christian Copt Out of Window

GMT 5-28-2009 19:3:11
Assyrian International News Agency

(AINA) -- Giza Criminal Court has handed down yesterday a five-year prison sentence to the two Police constables who killed the Copt Nasser Gadallah, by throwing him out of a window.

The Gadallah family's legal team objected to this lenient sentence, and asked the Court to reclassify the charge as 'wilful, premeditated, and deliberate killing.'

Attorney Dr. Naguib Gibraeel, advised that he will appeal to the Prosecutor General against this court ruling, on grounds of an error in the application of the law. According to him the charge should have been classified as 'deliberate and premeditated killing', which is punishable by the death penalty, and even in case 'premeditation' is eliminated, then the sentence ought to carry a life imprisonment with hard labour.

"Investigations proved that the perpetrators raided the victim's property and entered his home, meaning that the intent to murder was premeditated. Besides the Autopsy report confirmed injuries and breakage to the skull ending with a bump, accompanied by a collapse in the circulatory system proving that death came as a result of either being thrown or falling from a window. Also witnesses have stated categorically that the Investigations Officer Ahmed Alnawawy was present at the crime scene and fled after seeing the fall of the victim" explained Gibraeel.

Many people were outraged when the facts of the Coptic plumber's killing came out and how he was brutally and cold-bloodedly thrown out of his window by the police, for refusing to drop charges of extortion against a police constable. Also the handling of the murdered Copt's trial raised many questions about the impartiality of the Prosecution services.

The murdered 39-year old Coptic plumber, Nasser Gadallah, had filed in August 2007, a police complaint against police constable Amir Sobhi accusing him of extorting from him 280 Egyptian pounds and his cell phone and that there were previous extortion incidents by him. Amir Sobhi was suspended from duty for four days pending inquiries.

At 4'oclock in the morning of 7th August 2007, Police Investigations Officer Ahmed Alnawawy went to Gadallah's home in a vehicle full of constables from Omrania Police station, Giza. Three of the constable broke into his apartment and demanded that he withdraws his complaint against their colleague Sobhi. According to his 37-year old wife, Mariam Mounir Ayoub, Nasser told the police that he would be ready to do so, provided he got his money and cell phone back. This was rejected by the constables. "After failing to convince him of dropping his charge, they started hitting him with sticks, pushed me out of the way, tied his hands and threw him from the window of our fourth floor apartment, in front of our kids. All this because he demanded his rights; he lost his life because he dared ask for his rights." said his widow.

Before killing the plumber, the police constables went into his family's apartment in the same building, threatened his four sisters, tied the hands of his two brothers Gad and Ishac, before beating them up. 'By the time we freed ourselves, our brother was already lying dead in the street," said his 27-year old brother Ishac.

When the incident happened, in an effort to cover up, a spokesman for Giza Police Force, gave the media another version which they stuck to and which was surprisingly picked up later by the Prosecution. They said that the police were called to the area due to heavy fighting breaking out there; a police force arrived to the scene, arrested five suspects, and was chasing two others, one of whom (meaning the plumber) tried to jump from his window to the next house before falling during the attempt, even though he was not wanted for arrest.

Police brutality in dealing with Nasser and his family prompted angry neighbours who had congregated at the scene to assault the police, injuring four of them. During the funeral, thousands of mourners marched chanting anti-police slogans, accusing police of brutality and murder," reported the independent AlMasry AlYoum newspaper.

When the trial of the Copt started in May 2008, Nasser's legal team, and human rights organizations were very critical at the way it was being handled.

Prosecution indicted only two constables (as scapegoats) on charges of 'assault leading to death ' a crime which carried between 4 to 7 years imprisonment. The Investigations Officer Ahmed Alnawawy was completely excluded from the Indictment, and was named only as a witness, in spite of proof against him, in addition to the two defendant Constables gaving evidence that they went to the Coptic plumber's apartment acting on his orders.One of the main witnesses was never called to give evidence, and the prosecution insisted that the police had no hand in Nasser falling to his death, as he was trying to run from the police by jumping from one window to another (the nearest window is 12 metres away) when he lost balance and fell to his death.

It is worth noting that the penniless Gadallah's family, consisting of his wife, three children and an 80 year-old mother, following their lawyer's advice, had to relinquish their right of bringing charges against the Investigations Officer as a main suspect, as this would have prolonged the case by bringing it back to the Prosecution, and they could not afford a delay in compensation payment. It was reported that they are in dire need of compensation because the victim was the only source of income for his family and that they are presently living on donations from charitable people.

Attorney Dr. Naguib Gibraeel stressed that he will demand a compensation sum of 2,000,000 from the Interior Ministry as the convicted Constables Maher Hussein and Hassan Mohamed are part of the police force, and this crime took place while they were 'on duty'.

By Mary Abdelmassih

(Posting date 29 May 2009)

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