Imam killer thought victim was the anti-Christ, court hears

An illegal immigrant who killed the blind Imam of a Finsbury Park mosque claimed his victim was the “anti-Christ” and it was judgement day, a court heard this week.

Hamza Boutouil, 25, also known as Aissa Menasria, subjected 39-year-old Sheikh Maymoun Zazour to a vicious beating before strangling him to death with an ornamental cord at the Muslim Welfare Centre, Seven Sisters Road, in September, the prosecution said.

But Jonathan Turner QC, prosecuting, said: “The Imam had not sold his life cheaply. He had fought back, despite his blindness.”

The Old Bailey jury was told on Monday there was no doubt Boutouil, an Algerian national, had killed the Imam. It was being asked to decide if he was clinically insane.

CCTV footage shown to the court captured Boutouil in an altercation with a man and then two girls outside Finsbury Park Tube Station a few hours prior to the attack.


You may also want to watch:


He then picked up a pigeon and carried it away for an unknown purpose, before heading to the mosque at around 4am, said Mr Turner.

He said Boutouil disturbed fellow Muslims by reading loudly from the Koran during morning prayers and at around 8.40am went to Sheikh Zazour’s room.

Most Read

“They are in there together for about an hour, during which time the Imam was killed,” said Mr Turner.

The post-mortem, which gave the cause of death as strangulation, also found a head injury and blunt object wounds consistent with a “violent struggle”, the jury was told.

Sheikh Zazour’s blood was found on Boutouil’s shoes, and the killer’s DNA was on the cord, the court heard.

Mr Turner said that at about 11.30am, he reappeared at the Muslim Welfare Centre and began “raving”.

“Among the things he was saying, which bystanders translated from Arabic so the police could understand, was that he had killed the anti-Christ – and by that he meant the Imam – and that this was judgement day.”

Boutouil, of no fixed address, denies manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The trial continues.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter