Egyptian mother, who decapitated her son and ate his head, declared insane

The mother Hanna Mohamed Hassan (L) and her son Youssef (R).—NewsFlash/file
The mother Hanna Mohamed Hassan (L) and her son Youssef (R).—NewsFlash/file 

In a horrifying incident in Egypt, a mother who decapitated her five-year-old son with a machete and ate part of his head has been declared criminally insane by a court.

Hanaa Mohamed Hassan, 29, had been on trial for the gruesome murder of her son, Youssef, but the judges ruled that she was not fit to plead. Instead, they determined that she had killed her son “in a state of madness” and ordered her detention at a secure psychiatric unit.

The shocking incident came to light when Youssef’s uncle discovered some of the boy’s body parts in a bucket at the family home in Faqus, northern Egypt. Following her arrest, Hassan confessed to the police that she had eaten part of her son’s head because she “wanted him to stay with her forever.”

Prosecutors had argued that Hassan may have killed her son out of fear of losing custody to her ex-husband. An initial psychiatric report suggested that she was responsible for her actions, as they appeared premeditated. She had obtained a club and a machete, locked all the doors and windows, struck her son’s head three times, and dismembered his body in an attempt to destroy the evidence.

However, the court ordered a more thorough assessment of her mental state, and a panel of court-appointed psychiatric experts determined that Hassan was “delusional” and held wild beliefs that relatives were using sorcery against her son. The report stated that she suffered from impaired insight and judgment, failing to grasp the gravity of her actions, and perceiving the murder as a simple mistake.

As a result, the court ruled that she should be detained at the Abbasiya Mental and Neurological Health Hospital in Cairo.

Hassan and Youssef had been living alone after her separation from her husband, who claimed that she knew precisely what she was doing. He recounted their history and his efforts to maintain a connection with his son, revealing that Hassan had tried to keep the child away from him and sow hatred in his heart.

This gruesome case has shocked the nation and highlighted the need for mental health evaluation and intervention in criminal cases involving severe mental illness.

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