An Egyptian court on Thursday sentenced to death a man who beheaded his former friend on a street in Ismailia last month and attempted to kill two other people as he left the scene with the severed head.
The court's verdict and sentencing came in the third hearing of the trial of Abdel Rahman Dabour, which was broadcast live on several national networks.
Dabour became known as the “Ismailia killer” after a video of the November 1 attack and of him walking through the city with the head in his hands was shared on social media.
Under Egyptian law, the death sentence will be referred to the Grand Mufti, the government’s highest religious authority, for approval. The Grand Mufti's decision carries weight but is not binding on the court, which will announce its final ruling on January 5.
Following his arrest less than an hour after the killing, Dabour told police that his victim had coerced him into a relationship years ago and that he decided to kill him when he threatened to make it public.
His trial began on December 4 and resumed on Monday, when Dabour gave a detailed confession but argued that it was not he who committed the murder because he was under the influence of crystal methamphetamine.
He said he began using it because it made him “braver” when dealing with life’s challenges.
Dabour's mother, who also testified on Monday along with his sister, told the judge that he was always her favourite son but that she lost him when he started using drugs. Dabour was seen consoling his distraught mother as she was questioned by court officials.
Dabour’s mother told the judges her son had been using the drug for several years and that it distorted his personality and actions.
His lawyers pleaded for a more lenient sentence because he had been under the influence of methamphetamine.
The footage of the gruesome murder made the case one of the most shocking for the Egyptians, who have followed it closely.
Prosecutors called it a “murder that shook the heavens”.