Egypt hands down death sentence for priest's murder

Egypt hands down death sentence for priest's murder
An Egyptian court sentenced a man to death for the murder of a Coptic priest in the northern city of Alexandria, according to reports.
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A man was sentenced to death for murdering an Coptic Christian priest in Alexandria, northern Egypt [Getty]

An Egyptian court on Wednesday sentenced to death a man accused of the murder last month of a Coptic priest in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, judicial sources said.

The Alexandria court's ruling is subject to approval by the mufti of the republic, normally a formality in Egypt which has the world's third highest rate of executions, according to Amnesty International.

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The sources said the defendant was found guilty of voluntary homicide after a court-ordered psychological assessment found him "responsible for his actions".

Father Arsanios Wadid died of his wounds in hospital after being stabbed on April 7 on Alexandria's seafront promenade as he accompanied a group of young parishioners.

The assailant was grabbed by passers-by and handed over to police, who detained him in a psychiatric hospital because of doubts over his mental health.

Coptic Christians, the largest non-Muslim religious minority in the Middle East, make up roughly 10 to 15 percent of Egypt's predominantly Sunni Muslim population of more than 100 million.

The community has long complained of discrimination and underrepresentation.

In February, however, Egypt for the first time swore in a Coptic judge to head its constitutional court.

Copts were targeted in a series of sectarian attacks after the military in 2013 deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. Such attacks focused largely on remote villages in southern Egypt.