Photo: – 18/11/17

The man who brutally murdered a Coptic priest on the streets of Cairo last month has received a preliminary death sentence, reports Ahram Online.

Mohamed Sonbaty, a man well-known to police as a violent Muslim fanatic, was convicted of killing Coptic priest Fr. Samaan Shehata, and the South Giza criminal court issued the preliminary death sentence on Wednesday.

Coptic Orthodox Priest Killed in Egypt

The case has been referred to the country’s Grand Mufti for a non-binding opinion on the death sentence, as per Egyptian law. The court will then issue its final verdict on January 15.

Defense argued that Sonbaty was insane when he attacked and killed Fr. Shehata, and attacked another priest, Fr. Beymen Moftan, in east Cairo, but the prosecution answered that he was fully aware of his actions.

The Coptic Church also denied Sonbaty’s defense, and a medical commission found Sonbaty sane before the trial began, Blagovest reports.

During the trial, Sonbaty himself admitted that the crime was premeditated, and that he had followed Fr. Shehata’s movements in Cairo, where the cleric was visiting family. The convicted murdered followed the priest to a car and forced him out, then attacked and killed him with a knife.

Sonbaty has attacked his own family members and set his own house on fire in the past, and is known by his neighbors as a radical.