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.


Turkey: EU sanctions over gas drilling ‘worthless’

Updated 13 min 31 sec ago
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Turkey: EU sanctions over gas drilling ‘worthless’

  • EU foreign ministers said they are suspending talks with Turkey over air transport agreement
  • They backed EU’s proposal to decrease financial assistance to Turkey

ANKARA: Turkey on Tuesday rejected as “worthless” an initial set of sanctions approved by the European Union against Ankara, and vowed to send a new vessel to the eastern Mediterranean to reinforce its efforts to drill for hydrocarbons off the island of Cyprus.
EU foreign ministers on Monday approved sanctions against Turkey over its drilling for gas in waters where EU member Cyprus has exclusive economic rights. They said they were suspending talks on an air transport agreement, as well as high-level Turkey-EU dialogues, and would call on the European Investment Bank to review its lending to the country.
They also backed a proposal by the EU’s executive branch to reduce financial assistance to Turkey for next year. The ministers warned that additional “targeted measures” were being worked on to penalize Turkey, which started negotiations to join the EU in 2005.
Speaking at a news conference in Macedonia, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the sanctions aimed to “appease” Cyprus and were of “no importance.”
“The EU needs us concerning the migration issue or other issues,” he said. “They will come to us and hold contacts; there is no escaping that.”
“They know that the decisions they took cannot be applied,” he said. “They were forced to take the worthless decisions under pressure from the Greek Cypriots and Greece.”
Cavusoglu added: “If you take such decisions against Turkey, we will increase our activities. We have three ships in the eastern Mediterranean, will with send a fourth.”
Earlier, the Turkish Foreign Ministry criticized the EU for ignoring the rights of Turkish Cypriots and accused the 28-nation bloc of “prejudice and bias.”
It added that Turkey was determined to protect its rights and the rights of Turkish Cypriots.
Two Turkish vessels escorted by warships are drilling for gas on either end of ethnically divided Cyprus. A third Turkish exploration ship is also in the area. Turkey insists that it has rights over certain offshore zones and that Turkish Cypriots have rights over others.
Cyprus was split along ethnic lines in 1974 when Turkey invaded in the wake of a coup by supporters of union with Greece. A Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence is recognized only by Turkey, which keeps more than 35,000 troops in the breakaway north. Cyprus joined the EU in 2004, but only the internationally recognized south enjoys full membership benefits.
Cypriot officials accuse Turkey of using the minority Turkish Cypriots in order to pursue its goal of exerting control over the eastern Mediterranean region.
The Cypriot government says it will take legal action against any oil and gas companies supporting Turkish vessels in any repeat attempt to drill for gas. Cyprus has already issued around 20 international arrest warrants against three international companies assisting one of the two Turkish vessels now drilling 68 kilometers off the island’s west coast.