Egypt orders retrial of monks sentenced to death for bishop’s murder

Ramon Rasmi Mansour, known as Faltaous al-Makari, lies on a stretcher at the courthouse in a courtroom where he was convicted along with Wael Saad, known as Isaiah al-Makari, of murdering Bishop Epiphanius, the abbot of Saint Macarius Monastery northwest of Cairo, in Damanhour, Egypt February 23, 2019. (Reuters)
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Updated 15 January 2020

Egypt orders retrial of monks sentenced to death for bishop’s murder

CAIRO: Egypt’s highest civilian court on Wednesday ordered a retrial of two monks sentenced to death for murdering a bishop at a Coptic Christian monastery, two judicial sources said on Wednesday.
The 2018 killing of 64-year-old Bishop Epiphanius, at Saint Macarius Monastery in the desert, rattled Egyptian Coptics who make up about 10 percent of the predominantly Muslim population.
Wael Saad, known by his monastic name Isaiah Al-Makari, and Ramon Rasmi Mansour, known as Faltaous Al-Makari, were convicted by a criminal court last year. Both had pleaded innocent.
Prosecutors said Saad, who had a history of differences with superiors, struck the bishop three times in the back of the head with a steel pipe while Mansour stood guard outside.
But the judicial sources told Reuters the cassation court abolished the death sentence after an appeal from the monks and will hear the case itself next April. Its rulings are final.
At the first trial, prosecutors and witnesses said Saad had been investigated for breaking monastic rules, including by trying to buy and sell land. He was defrocked in 2018.
After the murder, both men tried unsuccessfully to commit suicide, Saad by poisoning himself and Mansour by jumping off the monastery roof.


Egypt sets virus vaccine target

Updated 13 min 47 sec ago

Egypt sets virus vaccine target

  • Volunteers will be closely monitored in order to take a second dose after 21 days

CAIRO: Assistant Health Minister and Coordinator of the Anti-COVID-19 Scientific Committee Ihab Kamal said that 842 people have volunteered in just one week to take part in Egypt’s coronavirus vaccine trials.

About 332 have been admitted in accordance with the health ministry’s requirements, which include being free from chronic disease.

Kamal said: “The number of volunteers until now is not low. We are working on raising the awareness of the citizens through various media platforms on the importance of the vaccine tests.” He added that the required number of volunteers is 6000.

He said the first two phases of the vaccine tests are complete and the third phase has begun. He added that volunteers are called for 21 days, pointing out that volunteers take a second dose in case they do not suffer any side effects. Kamal said the blood’s antibodies are measured throughout the year as part of the program.

Egyptian Minister of Health Hala Zayed announced on Thursday that she had launched the third and final phase of clinical trials on two vaccines developed by Egypt. She said the results of the two vaccine trials are positive so far.

Sources said that the Ministry of Health and the three centers taking part in the trials have received many applications. However, many of the applicants do not match the prerequisites, and therefore only 335 were accepted for the trials.

Zayed said in a press conference in Cairo that the current phase targets the participation of 6000 Egyptians. She said there are three places allocated for clinical trials.

Volunteers will be closely monitored in order to take a second dose after 21 days. After 45 days of the first dose, antibodies produced by the vaccine are measured to test their efficiency, Zayed said.

She said that national medical committees have been formed from civil and military bodies representing Egypt’s best medical experts.

She added that a committee will oversee conducting the clinical trials and that two vaccines out of seven have reached the third phase of clinical trials.

Zayed said that the first phase of the two vaccines included a test on a small group of 10 to 20 people with the aim of ensuring safety and also determining an appropriate dose. About 200 people took part in the second phase.

The third phase aimed included trials on 45,000 people from around the world, including 6,000 Egyptians.

The Ministry of Health and the company responsible for conducting the clinical trials explained the conditions that volunteers must follow to be eligible for tests.

They include an age bracket from 18 to 60 years old according to health condition. Registration must also be carried out using official documents. Volunteers must reside in Egypt or have valid residency documents during the trial period. Moreover, volunteers must sign an “informed consent” form prior to taking part in the trial.

There are a number of health conditions that prevent volunteers from taking part in the trials, including suffering from the symptoms of fever, dry cough, exhaustion and gonorrhea during the 14 days that precede the tests.