A file photo of Coptic bishop Epiphanius who was found dead inside a monastery outside Cairo. Photo: Courtesy of Coptic Church.
Cairo: Egyptian prosecutors have charged a former monk of murdering a monastery bishop whose brutal death has shocked the country’s Christian minority.
Late last month, Bishop Epiphanius, the head of the St Macaruius Monastery north west of Cairo, was found dead inside the desert site. Days later, the Coptic Orthodox Church announced halting acceptance of new monks for a year as part of measures it said were aimed at “regulating” monastic life.
Prosecutors in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria ordered the jailing of former monk Wael Sa’ad for four days pending further investigations after charging him with murdering the 64-year-old bishop, legal sources said on Sunday.
Sa’ad, whose monk name was Ishaih Al Makari, admitted to have fatally hit Eiphanius with an iron pipe inside the monastery, they added.
The 33-year-old accused claimed he had committed the crime in collusion with another former monk, who is now at a Cairo hospital after a suicide attempt.
Sa’ad did not give a clear motive for the murder.
However, independent newspaper Al Masry Al Youm reported that the crime was due to a dispute between Sa’ad and the late bishop over distribution of donations offered to the monastery and the former’s disobedience.
Sa’ad’s lawyer withdrew from the case after his admission and praised police for unlocking the mystery of the crime, the paper said.
There was no comment from the Church.
Last week, the Church said Sa’ad had been defrocked due to what it termed as “erroneous behaviour” which violated the monkship rules.
Copts make up the majority of Egypt’s Christian minority.