FILE - Raymond Rasmi Mansour (Faltaous al-Makary) (R)
CAIRO – 1 July 2020: The Court of Cassation on Wednesday upheld a death sentence against a former monk and changed the penalty against another monk to life imprisonment, over killing Bishop Epiphanius, late head of the Saint Macarius Monastery in Wadi El-Natroun in northern Egypt.
The convicts face premeditated murder charges.
Wael Saad (formerly known as Monk Ash’eyaa) and Raymond Rasmi Mansour (Faltaous al-Makary) were stripped of their monkhood shortly after the bishop was killed and before it was announced that they were officially charged with murder.
Monk Ash’eyaa is the one facing the death sentence.
Bishop Epiphanius was found dead on July 29 inside the monastery. The two monks reportedly confessed their crime. However, during an earlier session, Ash’eyaa denied committing the crime.
In February, the lawyer of one of the two former monks presented videos and pictures related to the incident allegedly proving that the metal tube seized by the police cannot be the murder weapon.
The pictures and videos sent by one of the monastery's monks showed that part of the victim's brain was out after he was hit, which cannot be caused by the metal tube believed to have be used to kill Bishop Epiphanius, the defense team said.
Ehab Sedra, lawyer of former monk Faltaous al-Makary, added that two people from outside the monastery murdered the bishop using two different tools, the lawyer asserted, El Watan reported.
"Is it [possible] that none of the 75 monks inside the monastery, staying in [rooms] located in the corridor the monastery's head passes by [on his way] to the church that [lies] inside the monastery,saw the incident?" Sedra asked.
The lawyer called for a forensic doctor to give his opinion after the new evidence was revealed to the court. He added that, before the court, the opinions of the two forensic doctors regarding the possibility that the seized tool could cause such injury to the victim were contradictory.
Sedra said that five people inside the monastery, who had disputes with the late monk, were suspects, while only two of them were indicted.
On February 23, the court ordered referring the two monks to Egypt's top religious authority for consideration of the death penalty against them.
Following the death of Bishiop Epiphanius, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria issued new monasticism laws, topping which is the deactivation of the social media accounts of all monks and bishops.
The death of Bishop Epiphanius revealed the struggle between the school of late Pope Shenouda and the ecclesiastical school of late Mathew the poor.
“We should look at it [the murder] as a wake-up call for all of us... The death of Bishop Epiphanius was like an alarm call,” said the pope during a mass marking the 40th day of the bishop’s death.
Monk Faltaous tried to commit suicide via slitting his wrist and then jumping off a high building inside the monastery. On August 21, he was hospitalized due to a degraded case of gangrene in his leg. Also, Ash’eyaa tried to commit suicide a day after the murder.