Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Will Christian Copt in 'Honour Killing" Get Same Justice As Muslims?

26 May 2009
Christian Copt, Ramy Khella filed on 19 May 2009, a judicial complaint to the Court of Cassation, accusing the court assigned for his trial with prejudice against him. He also implicated forensics of impartiality. 'I am a victim of society, and the injustice of the judiciary. I am certain that the Court has the intention from the start to have me executed' said the 26-year old Ramy.
"How could it be possible that I was arrested on 8 October 2008, and the report was issued on 7 October ?! How is it possible to accuse my uncle Refaat of driving the getaway car, when he does not know how to drive?!" During the next day's court hearing pertaining to the judicial complaint, lead defense lawyer, Ashraf Ghobrial says that he was verbally insulted by one of the judges, Omar Elkamary, just for pointing out the irregularities in the police and forensic reports. The judge told him to HUSH UP! "Using the sound one uses to herd chicken away, we were like being in a court of roosters trying chicken, I have never witnessed anything like this in a court before!" Ghobrial said. In an interview with 'Katiba Tibia', a Coptic electronic site, Ghobrial said that he will file a complaint with the Prosecutor General regarding the behaviour of that same judge, who insulted him on 20 April 2009, when he wanted clarification from the forensics doctor regarding a discrepancy between his report and that of the police, to which the judge told him: "How low can you get?!"
He continued by saying:"Whatever verdict Ramy will get, the main thing is not to have a chamber set against him. We appplied for another chamber to be assigned for this case. If the judge Omar Elkamary cannot control his nerves and cannot 'stand' the accused and his defense team and has already made up his mind to sentence him to death, he is in no state to give a 'JUST' verdict!"
Ramy is accused of shooting on 6 October 2008, his sister Maryam and her husband Ahmed Saleh in the Amiriya area, east of Cairo. His sister who had converted to Islam two years earlier married the Muslim man Saleh and have an 18-month old daughter Nor. The husband died two hours after the assault and Maryam was injured in her left arm, which was later amputated. The toddler got some face injuries.
The prosecution charged him with premeditated murder, due to the conversion of his sister to Islam and marrying a Muslim man. His uncle Rafaat Khela was charged with 'accessory to murder', and both were imprisoned pending trial.
The circumstances of the case are disputed. The Arab media called it the 'Al Amirya Massacre', making this killing to be a premedidated sectarian crime which put an 'unhappy ending' to a romance between a Muslim man and a Coptic girl. According to the media version Maryam's family were so angry because she converted to Islam, that they killed her.According to Ramy, he went to his sister's home in an effort to get her back, having complained to their mother of her husband's treatment and wanted to come back home. He went to try and get her back in a car driven by a Muslim who had just returned from Pilgrimage and had a gun in his car used in celebrating this event. Anticipating the difficulty of his mission, he took the gun with him, meeting on the stairs his sister and husband. A scuffle took place between the two men and he made use of the gun. Maryam testified against her brother accusing him of previously stalking them.
On the first court hearing on 20 April 2009, Ramy's defense team dropped a bombshell in order to change the course of the case from being considered one of sectarian strife to one of honour killing, and gave proof with dates to back the case for 'honour killing'. According to the submitted proof, Maryam got pregnant outside of marriage and gave birth to a full-term baby less than 6-months after her marriage. This gave rise to feelings of hatred, jealousy and fear for the family honor taking full control of her accused brother Ramy and uncle Ra'fat Khella, according to the defense team.
"Mary was deceived by the sister of her deceased husband "Ahmed", she even provided them with the opportunity to commit obscenity together. Their daughter was born less than six months after her marriage," explained Ramy this week in an interview with 'Katiba Tibia'. "I could not bear being told that my sister committed indecency while I remain silent and not do something about it," he added. "I did my best to meet her and get her back, but was prevented by the police. I have asked more than once to meet with my sister, and requested the National Center for Human Rights to intervene, however, my plea was totally rejected, and the reaction was that the State Security assaulted my family because of this demand.
This killing caused Muslim anger which was fanned by the Media. During the funeral, hundred of Muslims lined the streets amid tight security. During Ramy's on site replay of the sequence events to the police, although it took place before dawn, Muslims held vigil and tried to attack him. When hindered by security over 1000 Muslims roamed the streets and tried to break into St. Georges Church in the area, but the police came and made the church safe.
Saleh's father told Al-Dostour newspaper, "I want justice for my son because he did nothing wrong. I am waiting for the government’s response, and if it does not give us our rights then it wants people to kill each other. The execution of the killer and his uncle is the only justice [I will accept]."
Honour killings are not particularly a Muslims phenomenon, they are a Middlle Eastern and South Asian phenomenon, that exist despite religious differences.
The crime of honour is not spelled out in the Egyptian penal code, however,as found by the Centre for Egyptian Women Legal Assistance, article 17 was
usually used to reduce or waive charges against the perpetrator of honour crimes.
This loophole is sought out by most defendants which allows leniency for those who can persuade the court that their sense of lost honor caused them to act in an uncontrollable rage.
Many Copts are watching this trial with great interest, will Ramy get the same treatment from the judiciary as a Muslim committing an 'honour killing'? Are all Egyptians equal under the law? Some Coptic hardliners admire young Ramy and believe that if every Copt behaved like him, maybe Muslims would have to think twice before attempting to force Coptic girls to embrace Islam.

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