Screenshot of a video circulated on social media of a blaze caused by an oil pipeline vandalism in Beheira governorate. November 13, 2019
CAIRO – 27 February 2020: A criminal court referred the documents of five people to the Grand Mufti, a procedure taken before sentencing convicts to death, over damaging a petroleum pipeline and causing the death of nine people in November in northern Egypt.
The Grand Mufti issues his opinion about executing people convicted of crimes punishable by the death penalty. However, his opinion is non-binding.
The tragic incident took place in Egypt’s northern governorate of Beheira causing the injury of 11 people. The burns affected a maximum of 50 percent of the injured bodies and varied in their degrees.
According to investigations, defendants planned to steal petroleum products from the pipeline crossing a private property. For that purpose, they rented the land in October and dug to reach the pipeline connecting it to smaller pipes and a stopcock they installed.
In the morning of November 13, one of the defendants attempted to install another stopcock accidentally puncturing a pipe. That resulted in a leak they failed to control so they escaped. The petrol got mixed with a wastewater channel and a blaze occurred.
At noon, the owner of the land called the police. The authorities confiscated the pipes the defendants installed and the tools used in digging, and the company controlled the leak.
A number of village dwellers gathered to watch and shoot videos. However, some of them were trying to steal the leaked petrol. The identities of thieves could not be identified from the videos and photos circulated on social media.
Subsequently, Top Prosecutor Hamada al-Sawy referred 10 defendants in the case to the criminal court, after they admitted their crimes.