Family members of a 3-year-old Egyptian boy who was sentenced last week to life in prison say they feel relieved after receiving assurances from officials that neither the boy nor his father will be arrested.
The boy’s father, Mansour Qorany Sharara, has returned to the family home in the southern Egyptian province of Fayyoum after nearly 18 months on the run. He had been avoiding authorities who had previously detained him when they came to arrest his young son.
In a surreal verdict, a military court last week found the boy, Ahmed Mansour Qorany Sharara, and 115 other people guilty of killing three people and sabotaging public and private property during a political demonstration in January 2014.
Ahmed was 16 months old at the time of the alleged crime.
The guilty verdict, handed down February 16, provoked an uproar.
“How could people trust justice if they see this?” TV presenter Wael Elebrashy asked Saturday as he interviewed the boy’s father in a Cairo studio.
Ahmed was sleeping as his father held him during the interview. Sharara began to cry, pleading for help. He said he was worried his son would be imprisoned.
Father detained for months, driven to flee
Sharara had already suffered a great deal because of the charges against his son.
When the police first came to arrest Ahmed in early 2014 and realized he was a toddler, they took his father into custody instead. Sharara was detained for four months before a judge released him.
Sharara has since spent nearly a year and a half on the run, evading authorities pursuing the case against the toddler, for fear he would be arrested, he told Elebrashy.
But in the wake of the public outrage over the case, officials gave assurances that neither father nor son would be arrested again.
An aide to the interior minister phoned Elebrashy’s show to say it was a case of mistaken identity. The aide, Gen. Abu Bakr Abdel Karim, promised that Ahmed and his father would not be jailed.
The military released a statement the following day saying the person wanted in the case was a 16-year-old who had fled authorities, and who had the same name as Ahmed.
The assurances did not completely allay the family’s fears, however.
During Sharara’s interview with Elebrashy, Ahmed’s mother, Hemat Mostafa, phoned the TV station to say the police had just left their home after inquiring about Ahmed and his father.
“If it is true that it was a mistaken identity, why did they come to arrest the boy? Why haven’t security arrested the right defendant then?” lawyer Mahmoud Abu Kaf said to reporters.