Friday, March 10, 2023

Thursday Rants and Rave: #EP13 “Mrs Karima and surviving the death row”

This is what I ranted in Arabic about in tonight’s episode of “Thursday Rants and Rave” which I am posting on Frida.

I spoke about the case of Mrs Karima El-Sayed who was acquitted of her husband’s murder while waiting on death row.

Two weeks ago, the Court of Cassation in Egypt acquitted Mrs Karima El-Sayed of her husband’s murder in December 2017 cancelling the death sentence issued by the Mansoura Criminal court to her in September 2019.

It is the first verdict of its kind to be issued in similar cases of spousal murders since 1986 according to Mrs Karima El-Sayed’s lawyer Wahdan El-Baz.

Karima El-Sayed
Karima with her daughters after her release and return to her family

The story of Karima started when her husband Mohamed Abdou El-Sheribiny was found dead in some field near the railways rail in their Nile Delta village on 5 December 2017.

A couple of days later the mother of two was arrested on charges of poisoning him. The Sheribinys already said that they had a fight and difference and that he was already staying with them for a week. He only returned for one night and the next thing they knew that he was found dead.

A friend of the late husband claimed that he heard a mobile phone call between the couple where Karima told her husband angrily that she could get rid of him at no cost.

According to the official forensic autopsy, Mohamed El-Sheribiny was poisoned by Sodium phosphide through a lethal cup of coffee.

Karima’s defense mainly evolved then around that she could not have killed him because number one she loves him and number two she had a broken leg days earlier that did not make her move easily in the first place.

Karima has been denied charges that she murdered her husband because she was madly in love with him and already, she decided to marry him against her family and his family’s approval in 2004. She did not deny that he was staying then at his family’s house then but said that it was a normal thing and he did not go there because of a fight but because they did not visit them.

The vegetable street vendor added that they did not fight and the evidence that he himself went with her to the hospital when her leg was broken.

All that did not convince Mansoura Criminal court which issued its death sentence on 2 September 2019. Karima’s life went from bad to worse to hell. She suffered physically in prison as she became on death row. She suffered from a stroke.

The September-2019 death sentence was a first-degree one.

Her lawyer Wahdan El-Baz appealed against the sentence, and it took him about three years to convince the cassation court of his client’s innocence using science, chemistry and the same official forensic autopsy report. I was quite amazed that a governorate’s lawyer would make this breakthrough for real.

El-Baz brought up the fact that Sodium phosphide takes about at least four hours in the human body to become lethal and kills and then brought up the last hours in the life of Mohamed El-Sherbiny. According to eyewitnesses he went to a local café in the village where he and his wife lived at 6.30 PM and stayed there till 9.30 PM.

He then returned back home. According to Karima, he did not stay long because he left the house shortly to charge their electricity pre-paid meters. The next time she would see him, it would be on 5 December 2017 as a dead body in that field.

According to the official autopsy report, Sherbiny died at 11 PM thus it is scientifically impossible for him to be poisoned after 9.30 PM when he returned back to his home from the cafe. He should have been poisoned earlier, mostly in the local café. Accordingly, Karima’s husband entered their house, and he was already poisoned.

In addition to Karima’s broken leg, it is unlikely that she poisoned him at the café.

The cassation court was convinced by El-Baz’s defense, especially since it was based on scientific facts and disregarded the testimony of the late husband’s friend.

On 23 February 2023, Karima was back to her daughters and her village which received her in a big way throwing her a big party because it is not every day someone is rescued from death row. On social media, her story is compared to some 1990s film starring Egyptian movie star Yousra.

There is still an unsolved mystery on who poisoned Mohamed El-Sheribiny and for what reason. 

This is not the only thing I ranted about this week because this story made me look at Egypt’s death sentence statistics.

If you do not know Egypt is still of 55 countries that still retain and implement the death sentence. The other 54 countries include the United States, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

There are 28 countries which still retain the death penalty but have not carried out a death sentence over the past years including-believe-or-not- Russia officially “Putin does not need courts” and Israel.

According to the Egyptian Front for Human Rights Organization, the Egyptian Criminal court issued 538 death sentences in 2022 compared to 403 death sentences in 2021 and 295 death sentences in 2020.

That huge increase goes back to the fact of the increasing rate of murder in the past two years, also many of those sentences are actually sentences in absentia.

In 2022, the Civilian and military cassation courts upheld the death sentences of 39 people.

Here is the RSS of the Podcast which I hope you follow if you speak Arabic.

Here is the podcast's URL on Spotify and Apple Podcast. It is also available on StitcherGoogle Podcasts and Anghami. Do not forget to leave good reviews on Apple Podcast if you like it and thanks for your time.

I want to thank all those amazing listeners who are kind enough to listen to my rants in Arabic and the amazing readers who are kind enough to read those very long posts in English.

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