Cairo: An Egyptian court in the coastal city of Alexandria on Thursday sentenced an Islamist militant to death by hanging for murdering a Coptic alcohol vendor in the street earlier this year, legal sources said.
The city’s Criminal Court unanimously issued the verdict against the defendant identified as Adel Abdul Noor, the sources added.
The ruling, which can be appealed, was passed after approval from the Grand Mufti, Egypt’s top Islamic official, a routine procedure in cases involving death sentences in Egypt.
In January, Abdul Noor was captured on a surveillance camera attacking with a knife Yousuf Lami, who owned an alcohol store in the district of Khaled ibn Al Walid in eastern Alexandria.
Later, the 50-year-old suspect was arrested in a deserted house in Alexandria.
He confessed to the murder at the trial that started last month and refused to have a lawyer to defend him. Abdul Noor, however, denied links to any militant group.
The murder came weeks after a suicide bomber attacked a mass service in a chapel adjoining the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo, killing 29 worshippers.
Daesh claimed the assault, the deadliest against Egypt’s Christian minority in decades.
Egypt’s Christians, known as Coptics, have long complained about persecution and attacks by Islamist extremists.
Hundreds of Christians last week fled North Sinai after radical Islamists executed some of them.
Christians staunchly back President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi, who as defence minister led the army’s 2013 ouster of president Mohammad Mursi following mass protests against his rule.
Dozens of churches across Egypt were attacked by Mursis’s backers in the violent protests that gripped the mostly Muslim country following his overthrow.
In 2014, Al Sissi became the first Egyptian president to go to the Cathedral in central Cairo to congratulate Christians on the Coptic Christmas.