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Egypt Confirms Death Sentence for 2 Monks over 2018 Murder of Bishop

Egypt Confirms Death Sentence for 2 Monks over 2018 Murder of Bishop

Thursday, 25 April, 2019 - 05:00
A monk walks on the grounds of the ancient monastery of St. Anthony, southeast of Cairo, Egypt. (AP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
An Egyptian court on Wednesday confirmed the death sentence for two monks, who are accused of the 2018 murder of a bishop.

In a case that shocked the Middle East's largest Christian community, Coptic Bishop Epiphanius was found dead with a head wound in July at the Saint Macarius monastery in the plains of Wadi al-Natrun, northwest of Cairo.

Prosecutors said one of the monks, Isaiah, confessed to striking the cleric with a metal bar as the second monk, Philotheos, kept watch.

The authorities blamed the killing on unspecified "differences" between the bishop and the two monks, one of whom was later defrocked.

The defendants can still appeal.

In its ruling, the court said that the defendants had carried out "one of the greatest crimes", according to a court official.

"(Their) status as monks did not stop them from carrying out this crime, the place of the crime did not deter them, and they did not care about the advanced age of the victim or his religious status," it said, according to AFP.

In the wake of the bishop's killing, Egypt's Coptic Church placed a one-year moratorium on accepting new monks.

It also banned monks from social media, tightened financial controls and refocused attention on spiritual life.

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