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Nayera Ashraf: Egyptian lawyer who defended Mubarak to represent convicted murderer

Farid al-Deeb says he will defend a 'person accused of a crime' and not the crime itself
Nayera Ashra had previously reported the perpetrator to the authorities, fearing that he would attack her, according to her father and witnesses (Screengrab/Twitter)

An Egyptian veteran lawyer, who defended former president Hosni Mubarak during his trial in 2011, said that he would be the defence attorney in the murder case of university student Nayera Ashraf that rocked the country last month.

Farid al-Deeb said on Tuesday that he accepted to defend Mohamed Adel, the convicted killer who confessed and was sentenced to death last week for killing the student.

A final hearing is scheduled on Wednesday in the Mansoura Criminal Court after the case was sent to the grand mufti to issue a non-binding opinion on the ruling.

Ashraf was beaten and stabbed multiple times in broad daylight on 20 June in front of shocked onlookers by Adel, whose marriage proposal she had rejected. 

'I am not defending a crime, but rather a person accused of a crime, and there is a big difference between the two,'

- Farid al-Deeb, Egyptian lawyer

Since then, Ashraf's family have received messages from people on social media offering millions of Egyptian pounds in return for pardoning Adel, according to local media. However, the victim's family refused, and her father said that "millions of pounds are not worth the price of a single drop of his [Ashraf's] blood."

Deeb said that he received phone calls from people outside Egypt to step in and defend Adel.

Ahmed Mahran, a controversial lawyer who started a fundraising initiative to pardon Adel, told media that "the death sentence scheduled for Wednesday morning will be overturned," without elaborating on the details. 

Deeb also said that the judge's verdict last week had convicted Adel "before the court issued a unanimous verdict condemning him," adding that he will study the case and push back in defence.

"I am not defending a crime, but rather a person accused of a crime, and there is a big difference between the two," he said.

'Loopholes'

Adel's family expressed relief when hearing of Deeb's acceptance to legally defend their son.

His sister, Nada, told media that the case had "legal loopholes" and claimed that her brother's statements were not taken into account during the investigations by the police and by the court.

The trial began on 26 June, days after a video went viral appearing to show the 21-year-old victim being stabbed outside Mansoura University.

Footage of the incident showed Adel later being restrained by bystanders and arrested by the police.

Ashraf had previously reported the alleged perpetrator to the authorities, fearing that he would attack her following repeated threats that he had made, according to her father and witnesses.

The maximum penalty for murder is death in Egypt, which carried out the third-highest number of executions in the world in 2021, according to Amnesty International.

Nearly eight million Egyptian women were victims of violence committed by their partners or relatives, or by strangers in public spaces, according to a United Nations survey conducted in 2015.