Mariam Mohammed was killed earlier this month following a drive-by theft in Cairo. Image Credit: Supplied

Cairo: Egypt’s chief prosecutor has referred three people to a criminal court on murder charges after they dragged a young woman to death following a drive-by theft, a case that has triggered massive outrage in the nation.

The 24-year-old victim identified as Mariam Mohammed was walking earlier this month on a street in the Cairo southern quarter of Maadi where a person sitting next to a driver of a speeding minibus tried to snatch her bag, the prosecution said, citing eyewitnesses.

The girl clung to her bag as the vehicle sped off, lost her balance, her head crashed into the front of a parked car and she was run over by the minibus of the defendants.

Two of the accused have been charged with premeditated murder and forced theft. The third is charged with complicity for having provided the prime defendants with the minibus while aware of the crime plan, prosecutors said.

The prosecution said charges were based on testimonies of seven witnesses and confessions of the defendants.

Their trial is due to start next Wednesday.

The accused said they had committed the crime with the intention of stealing the victim’s bag in which they found 85 Egyptian pounds (Dh19.8) and some make-up tools, Egyptian media reported.

Video clips retrieved from surveillance cameras at the scene showed that the minibus had passed on the road at high speed.

Police investigations revealed that the offenders’ vehicle had dragged Mohammed who was returning home from work for several metres, according to media reports. She worked at a state-owned bank.

If convicted, the two prime defendants could face the death penalty, legal experts said.