Muslim strangled blind imam after claiming victim was 'Antichrist,' court hears

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A Muslim strangled a blind imam before declaring it was "judgement day" and his victim was the "Antichrist", a court heard today.

Hamza Boutouil, 25, inflicted a severe beating to 39-year-old Sheikh Maymoun Zazour inside his office at an Islamic centre in Finsbury Park, it was said.

Algerian-born Boutouil then strangled his victim with an ornamental cord, but returned later proclaiming it was "judgment day", the Old Bailey has heard.

Both prosecution and defence admit he carried out the killing and jurors have been told they will have to determine whether he is clinically insane.

Boutouil visited the Muslim Welfare House, on Seven Sisters Road, last September 2 at around 4pm, said prosecutor Jonathan Turner Queen's Counsel.

The killer had been living in a squat in Wood Green and would often visit the centre - located just across the road from Finsbury Park Mosque - to pray.

During prayers he caused a disturbance by reading from the Qu'ran loudly, but appeared to calm down as the session went on.

It was later that evening, at around 8.35pm that he went into Mr Zazour's room while the imam was using an upstairs toilet, confronting him when he returned around five minutes later.

"From that moment, these two men were alone in that room," said Mr Turner.

"That situation lasts until about 9.44pm. They are in there together for about an hour, during which time the imam was killed."

Mr Zazour was discovered by another staff member at around 10pm, the court heard.

An ornamental cord was found wrapped around his neck and a post mortem, which gave the cause of death as strangulation, also found a head injury and blunt object wounds consistent with a "violent struggle", said Mr Turner.

"Whatever else happened in there, the imam had not sold his life cheaply," he added.

"He had fought back, despite his blindness."

Mr Zazour's blood was found on Boutouil's shoes, while the killer's DNA was on the cord, the court heard.

Minutes later, Boutouil was seen across the road at Finsbury Park Mosque demanding to be let in, jurors were told.

"He gets there and was shouting, in effect, that he wanted to see the imam," said Mr Turner. "But that didn't happen."

Later, at around 11.30pm as one witness was describing him to police, he returned to the Muslim Welfare House and began "raving", the court heard.

Mr Turner said: "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.

"One thing they noted though was that he now had injuries to his face and ears which he hadn't had before.

"Clearly he had been involved in a fight and, of course, we now know it was with the imam."

Boutouil, of no fixed address, denies manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He will claim that he was legally insane at the time he carried out the killing.

The trial continues.

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