A mother who decapitated her five-year-old son with a machete and ate his head has been declared criminally insane by a court in Egypt.
The woman, Hanaa Mohamed Hassan, 29, was on trial for her son Youssef’s gruesome murder but judges ruled she was not fit to plead.
In a verdict revealed on September 30, they said she had killed the boy ‘in a state of madness’ and should be detained at a secure psychiatric unit.
Hassan was caught after Youssef’s horrified uncle found some of his body parts in a bucket at the family home in Faqus, northern Egypt, the Criminal Court of Zagazig heard.
Following her arrest, police said she confessed that she had eaten part of her son’s head because she ‘wanted him to stay with her forever’.
She had butchered his body in the bathroom before she stewed his head and other pieces of his flesh in boiling water on the stove and then ate them.
Before the ruling, prosecutors had argued that Hassan had killed her son because she feared she might lose custody of the boy to her ex-husband.
An initial psychiatric report had also found that she was responsible for her actions which were premeditated, as she had obtained a club and a machete and locked all the doors and windows in her home.
She had then struck her son’s head three times, killing him, and had then chopped Youssef’s body into pieces in a bid to destroy the evidence.
But the court ordered a more detailed assessment of her mental state, and a panel of court-appointed psychiatric experts found that Hassan was ‘delusional’ and had wild notions that relatives were using sorcery against her son.
The report said Hassan suffered from impaired insight and judgment and did not appreciate the seriousness of her actions.
She viewed the slaughter as a simple mistake.
Hassan was ordered to be detained at the Abbasiya Mental and Neurological Health Hospital in Cairo.
After her arrest, Hassan claimed to the police in Faqus that she ‘suffers from a mental illness’ and had not intended to kill her son.
She and Youssef had been living alone after she separated from her husband, who insists she knew exactly what she was doing.
The ex-husband, identified only by his initials H.A., told local media: ‘When I arrived, the police prevented me from seeing my son because of the horrific scene.
‘We separated from each other four years ago because she had land from her father and asked me to leave the house and my family and go with her to live on the land.
‘But I refused, and the relationship ended entirely by her will, and I tried to reconcile with her after the divorce, but she refused and stuck to her opinion.’
He added: ‘My son was the one who kept me connected to her, and I used to see him regularly and bring him clothes and things he needed.
‘But recently she was trying to keep him away from me and plant hatred towards me in his heart, so he wouldn’t come to me.
‘I was trying to communicate with her family to see my son and make sure he was OK.’
According to his lawyer, Samir Mohamed Saleh, the suspect was stone-faced when she told her questioners: ‘I wanted to free him and myself.
‘I wanted to take revenge against his father and be free. His father keeps coming and trying to take him away all the time.’