After a shocking court trial, this sad story has finally reached its conclusion.
An Egyptian judge should receive the death penalty for the brutal murder of his wife, prominent TV journalist Shaima Gamal, a Cairo court ruled Wednesday.
Gamal, 42, was reported missing by her husband, Ayman Haggag, in June. The judge told police that Gamal never showed up when he arrived to pick her up from a shopping mall in Egypt’s Giza City, according to local media outlets.
But the case took a disturbing turn roughly three weeks later, when a friend of Haggag, businessman Hussein al-Gharabli, turned himself in to police. According to local authorities, al-Gharabli confessed that in exchange for an undisclosed amount of money, he had agreed to help Haggag murder his wife and bury her body in a farmhouse near the countryside of Cairo.
After al-Gharabli led authorities to the site of the burial, a police investigation found that Gamal had been beaten with a pistol and strangled to death. Adding to the horror, police said that Gamal’s face had been burned with nitric acid in an apparent attempt to make her remains unidentifiable. Both Haggag and al-Gharabli were later charged with premeditated murder—and after roughly a week on the run, Haggag was arrested in the Egyptian city of Suez.
During the trial, al-Gharabli’s lawyers had alleged that Gamal, who hosted a news talk show called The Troublemaker, had attacked her husband with a knife, arguing that the judge had acted in self defense. The claim was ultimately dismissed by the court due to lack of evidence.
The gruesome incident sparked uproar across Egypt, where violent crimes against women reportedly doubled last year. Around the same time Gamal’s body was discovered, 21-year-old Egyptian student Naira Ashraf Abdel Qader was killed in a stabbing attack on her college campus by a man whose marriage proposal she had refused. The high-profile murders have fueled demands that the Egyptian government introduce legislation to curb the rise in gender-based violence in the country.
Haggag is set to appear in court one last time in September, where Egypt’s Grand Mufti—a top official responsible for issuing religious legal opinions—is set to approve or deny the court’s sentence.