Egypt prosecutors order ex-monk detained over Abbot’s death

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Prosecutors on Saturday ordered a recently defrocked monk to be detained for four days pending an investigation into his alleged involvement in the death of the abbot of a prominent monastery in the desert northwest of Cairo, Egypt’s state news agency said.

The defrocked monk, identified by his monastic name of Isaiah, confessed to collaborating with others to kill Bishop Epiphanius, abbot of St. Macarius Monastery in Wadi al-Natroun, prosecutors said.


The abbot’s mystery killing took place July 29. His funeral was attended by Pope Tawadros II, the spiritual leader of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Christians, one the world’s oldest Christian communities.

The Alexandria appeals court in northern Egypt on Saturday decided to imprison the monk Isaiah for four days as part of the investigation into the killing of Bishop Epiphanius, according to Egyptian media.

The accused Wa’el Saad was intimidated by the monastery of St. Macarius in Wadi al-Natroun in 2010 on behalf of the monk Isaiah who was stripped of the monastic order by the church on Sunday (August 5) because of his behavior, which constituted grave violations of monastic and monastery laws.

The accused confessed to the criminal investigation team and explained the crime instrument, an iron bar found in a scrap warehouse in the monastery, which was used to kill the bishop with a single blow over the head.

The prosecution continued its investigations and heard witnesses after downloading CCTV camera footage and summoning the driver who works with him to listen to his testimony.

The 60-strong investigation team various sections of the Beheira and the Public Security and National Security and Public Prosecutor’s Office. The criminal evidence, the surveillance cameras, the combing of the monastery and its surroundings were searched for any traces of the murderer, some of the monks’ cages were searched, the monastery was closed, Person.

Investigations inside the monastery confirmed to the police team that the killer was fully aware of the place of the Bishop and the timing of his departure and the way to the church.

The public prosecution heard the testimonies of monks and convent workers, and the monk Isaiah, who had already been tried by the bishop several times for offenses against the monastic law.

In a statement, the church said Isaiah has a record of failing to abide by the monastery’s rules and that an investigation committee had previously decided to keep him out of the monastery for three years, but other monks had signed a petition calling for him to be pardoned and pledged to help him change his “wrong course.”

Isaiah failed to change his conduct which resulted in his defrocking, the church added.

The monk’s testimony to the investigating team seemed contradictory, especially the timing of his presence in the monastery during the murder. He was spotted by the main gate of the monastery with another monk and someone else at a time contrary to what he said in his testimony.

When the monk was released to return to the monastery, he tried to commit suicide by drinking an insecticide.

On the same day, August 5, after the monk was defrocked, he was taken by the security forces to a security headquarters in Damanhour to begin extensive interrogaion and to confront him with the evidence, and the statements of the witnesses. He could not withstand his lies until long. He openly admitted his crime, guided the team to the crime instrument. The weapon was indeed found based on his confession, a rectangular iron rod in the scrap warehouse of the monastery.

The next day, the monk Velathoob, who was among those investigated, attempted suicide by severing his arteries and throwing himself from the fourth floor of the monastery. The seriously injured monk was taken to the Anglo American Hospital, with fractures in the pelvis, leg and vertebrae.

The prosecution did not disclose the nature of his statements.

Following Epiphanius’ death, the church took a series of measures aimed at instilling discipline into monastic life. Among them was to halt accepting new novices in monasteries nationwide for a year and giving monks across Egypt one month to close their social media accounts arguing that keeping them is incompatible with monastic life.

Egypt, the birthplace of Christian monasticism, is home to some of the world’s most ancient monasteries, nestled in the country’s barren desert and which have drawn monks for centuries to lead solitary ascetic lives. Monks have largely remained in retreat even amid the monumental changes that shook Egypt’s political and social landscape in recent years.

(With The Associated Press)

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