Following consultations with the Mufti, the judges of the Criminal Court of Damanhur confirmed the sentence. It excludes generic extenuating circumstances due to the brutality of the assassination. The two monks will ultimately appeal against the verdict.
Cairo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - An Egyptian court has confirmed the death sentence for two former Coptic Orthodox monks, held responsible for the murder of their bishop in obscure circumstances in late July last year.
The murder of Anba Epiphanius, abbot of the monastery of Saint Marcius was the result of unspecified "differences" between the prelate and the two religious, Wael Saad and Ramon Rasmi Mansour, known as Faltaous al-Makari.
On the evening of July 29, the 64-year-old prior of the monastery of Saint Marcius in Wadi Natrun, about 110 km north-west of Cairo, was found lifeless and with deep head wounds inside the institution that stands in a desert area. Following the death, the leaders of the Egyptian Orthodox Coptic Church imposed the ban on the use of social media for the monks and the blocking of one year for new entries into the seminaries.
Among the reasons that led to the death sentence handed down in the first instance on February 23, is the fact that the two authors were allegedly "unscrupulous" in their acts and "did not take into due account" the age advanced and the spiritual stature of the victim. This has effectively excluded the possibility of granting generic extenuating circumstances.
On April 24th, the grand mufti of Egypt examined the trial case - in the country of the pharaohs the religious authority always expresses a judgment in the cases in which the capital punishment is inflicted - and has confirmed the verdict of first instance. Following the (non-binding) decision of the Grand Muftì, the judges of the Criminal Court of Damanhur have established that the sentence is enforceable.
Now the two former monks will be able to appeal to the Supreme Court.
In a nation of almost 95 million people with a large Muslim majority, Christians [above all Orthodox Copts] are a substantial minority, accounting for about 10% of the total population.