London

'Judgement Day killer thought London imam antichrist'

A blind Muslim cleric was strangled by a man who told police he had killed the "antichrist" and that it was Judgement Day, a court has heard.

Hamza Boutouil, 25, attacked Maymoun Zarzour with an ornamental rope at Muslim Welfare House in Finsbury Park, north London, on 2 September last year, the Old Bailey heard.

His defence claims that he was criminally insane at the time and should receive hospital treatment.

He was living in the country illegally.

Picked up pigeon

The imam, known as Sheikh Maymoun, had been blind from a young age from injuries he suffered in his native Lebanon.

After the killing, as witnesses were giving descriptions to the police, Algerian Boutouil returned to the centre and was "raving", the court heard.

Prosecutor Jonathan Turner QC told the court: "Among the things he was saying, which bystanders translated from Arabic so the police could understand, was that he had killed the antichrist, and that by that he meant the imam, and that this was Judgement Day."

It is accepted that Boutouil killed Sheikh Maymoun.

The prosecution argues that he should be found guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

In the hours before the killing, between 02:00 and 04:00 BST, Boutouil was seen behaving strangely on CCTV.

Covered in bruises

He confronted a man and then two girls in the street before picking up a pigeon and walking off with it.

Later he went to the welfare centre and was heard shouting "Allahu akhbar" (God is great) repeatedly and was behaving strangely during morning prayers.

At about 08:40 BST he spent about an hour alone with the imam and killed him, the jury heard.

The primary cause of death was strangulation. Sheikh Maymoun was also covered in bruises consistent with a struggle.

Mr Turner said: "Whatever else had happened in that room, the imam had not sold his life cheaply. He had fought back, despite his blindness."

Boutouil, who entered the country last July, was living in a squat near Wood Green, north London.

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