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.


Images of starving lions in Sudan zoo spark global concern

Updated 8 min 39 sec ago

Images of starving lions in Sudan zoo spark global concern

  • “This is actually a crime,” a local activist said, adding that the park once teemed with animals

KHARTOUM: At an impoverished, forlorn zoo in Sudan’s capital, the park’s few remaining lions are starving in rusted cages — their ribs protruding, eyes glassy and skin flaccid, desperate for food and water.
The unsettling images, shared on social media by a local animal rights advocate, drew impassioned responses from thousands around the world. But it wasn’t enough to save two lionesses at the Khartoum zoo, said local activist Zuhair Al-Sarag.
“This is actually a crime,” he said, adding that the park once teemed with animals. “Someone should be held accountable.”
With the staff at the destitute Al-Qurashi Park, as the zoo in Khartoum is known, unable to feed and look after the animals, many have died off or were evacuated, leaving only three skeletal lions, including a lioness.
Locals concerned about the fate of the lions flocked to help recently, bringing food and medical items, despite the economic crisis gripping the country. Soaring food prices in Sudan triggered a mass protest movement last year that convulsed the large African country, ultimately ousting longtime autocrat Omar Al-Bashir in April.
Months later, a civilian-military transitional council replaced Al-Bashir’s rule, and inherited its problems, including $60 billion in debt, rebellions in far-flung provinces and the country’s longtime status as a global pariah.
Price hikes and economic hardship have caused animals to suffer, too.
“Many international organizations are willing to help” the lions, including an emergency rescue group expected in Sudan soon, said Osman Mohamed Salih, the first activist who appealed for help online.
While many abroad have tried to donate via crowdfunding sites, Salih noted that US sanctions on Sudan have prevented the zoo from receiving funds through popular platforms, such as GoFundMe. There was no immediate response from GoFundMe.
Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok, formerly a World Bank economist, has made it his mission to get the United States to drop its designation of Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, so that the country can attract badly needed foreign aid and investment. The economic troubles are testing the government during its fragile transition to democracy.
“Despite all of this, the marathon of recovery, healing and redevelopment ... continues,” Salih, the activist, wrote on Facebook.
On Wednesday, he shared a photograph of the remaining lioness after volunteers had brought food, saying she was making “beautiful progress.”