Egypt charges two Coptic monks with bishop’s murder

In this May 27, 2017 file photo, a priest walks in front of St. Samuel the Confessor Monastery in Maghagha, Egypt. (AP)
Updated 19 August 2018
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Egypt charges two Coptic monks with bishop’s murder

  • Bishop Epiphanius, 68, the head of Saint Macarius monastery, was found dead in late July
  • The bishop’s death has rocked the Coptic Church in Egypt

CAIRO: Egyptian prosecutors on Sunday charged two Coptic monks with murdering a bishop at a desert monastery, in a high-profile case that has shaken the Christian community in the country.
Bishop Epiphanius, 68, the head of Saint Macarius monastery in Wadi el-Natrun, was found dead with a head wound in late July.
Prosecutors accuse monks Wael Al-Saad and Remon Resmi of agreeing to kill the senior cleric over unspecified “differences,” a statement from the attorney general’s office said.
Saad confessed to lying in wait for the bishop as he headed for prayers before hitting him over the head with a metal pipe while Resmi watched on, the statement said.
Prosecutors referred the two monks to trial but no date has been set for the case to be heard.
After the killing Saad, known by his ecclesiastical name Isaiah, was expelled from the Church and attempted to commit suicide.
The bishop’s death has rocked the Coptic Church in Egypt, the largest Christian community in the Middle East.
Following the incident, the Church announced a series of restrictive measures related to the activities of monks.
It said it was stopping accepting new monks for a year and gave current monks a month to disable all of their social media accounts.
Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II also closed his official Facebook page.
The moves pointed to the existence of rifts within the church that some have tied to the bishop’s murder.
Church authorities have remained largely silent on the matter.
Coptic Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s predominantly Sunni Muslim population of some 100 million.


Vulture with GPS tracker held in Yemen on suspicion it was used for spying

Updated 25 April 2019
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Vulture with GPS tracker held in Yemen on suspicion it was used for spying

  • The bird migrated from Bulgaria, to Turkey, to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and then Yemen
  • Govt forces detained the bird on suspicion that the attached GPS tracker was a spy device for Houthi militants

SANAA: Griffon vulture Nelson crossed into war-torn Yemen in search of food but ended up in the hands of Yemeni fighters — and temporarily in jail for suspected espionage.
The sand-colored bird came down in the country’s third city of Taiz, an unusual move for a young vulture that can soar for long distances across continents in search of food and moderate weather.
Nelson, approximately two years old, embarked on his journey in September 2018 from Bulgaria, where his wing was tagged and equipped with a satellite transmitter by the Fund for Wild Fauna and Flora (FWFF).
But he seems to have lost his way, eventually coming down into Taiz — under siege by Houthi rebels but controlled by pro-government forces, who mistook Nelson’s satellite transmitter for an espionage device and detained the bird.
Forces loyal to the government believed that the GPS tracker attached to the bird may have been a spy device for the rebels.
Hisham Al-Hoot, who represents the FWFF in Yemen, traveled from the rebel-held capital Sanaa to Taiz to plead with local officials to release the helpless animal.
“It took about 12 days to get the bird,” he told AFP.
“The Bulgarian foreign ministry reached out to the Yemeni ambassador, who in turn contacted local officials (in Taiz) and told them to immediately give the organization the vulture.”
Hoot said that the bird migrated from Bulgaria, to Turkey, to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and then Yemen — where the FWFF lost track of the bird.
Nelson was MIA until April 5, when the conservation group received hundreds of messages from Yemenis concerned about the creatures’ welfare.
Today, the locally-famous vulture is being properly fed and getting stronger every day.
“When we first took him, he was in very bad condition,” said Hoot, adding that the bird was underweight.
Smiling, he puts on gloves and carefully handles the majestic creature — blowing it a kiss.
Hoot said the bird will be released in two months when he believed Nelson will have regained his full strength and his wing — broken somewhere during his journey — will have healed.
“We thought at first it would take six months for him to heal, but now we don’t think it will be more than two months,” he said.
Hoot said that Nelson was not able to find any source of sustenance in Yemen.
“They can eat carcasses of dead animals, but now there is no more with the current situation of war.
“This is what forced him to come down and stopped him from completing his journey.”
The four-year conflict in Yemen has unleashed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations, with millions facing famine.
The war escalated in March 2015 when a coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, intervened to bolster the efforts of Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
Since then, at least 10,000 people — most of them civilians — have been killed and more than 60,000 wounded, according to the World Health Organization. Other rights groups estimate the toll could be much higher.