08/13/2018, 09.32
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Former monk arrested over murder of Coptic bishop

The investigators ordered the arrest of Wael Saad, expelled from the order in the days following the killing of Bishop Epiphanios. He will remain in pre-trial detention pending the formalization of charges. Motive remains unknown. The man believed to have hit the bishop at the head with an iron pole.


Cairo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Egyptian public prosecutor has arrested a former monk over the murder of the Coptic Orthodox bishop Anba Epiphanios. The bishop who was prior of the monastery of Saint Macarius in Wadi Natrun waskilled in late July. The suspect Wael Saad, had recently been expelled from the order and will remain in custody for four days, waiting for the indictment to be formalized.

On the evening of 29 July, the 64-year-old Bishop Epiphanios was found lifeless and with a deep gash to his head inside the monastery, which is situated in a desert area to the north-west of Cairo. The motive that has pushed the former religious to kill his superior remains unknown.

According to the investigators, Wael Saad used an iron pole to strike the bishop to death. The assassination has spread panic and fear among the Egyptian Orthodox Coptic community, which represents about 10% of the total population.

Wael Saad, who as a monk called himself Isaiah al-Makari, lost his title and was expelled from the order in the days following the death of Bishop Epiphanios. At first the ecclesiastical authorities had explained that the decision was motivated by investigations into his"continuous violations" of the duties imposed by his religious life and belonging to the religious order.

Following the violent death of Anba Epiphanios, the Coptic Orthodox Church launched a fierce battle against the lewd and improper behavior of some monks. At the same time they have frozen the admission of new candidates to the monastic order for at least a year.

The leaders of the Coptic Church have imposed the closure of social media - Facebook and Twitter - and the same Coptic pope Tawadros II has set the example by eliminating all account, however, little used in the past. According to some well-informed sources, behind the provision there would be the growing dissent among the various souls of the Coptic Church regarding the murder of the bishop.

So far there has been no official comments by the highest ecclesiastical authorities.

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