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.

US blasts Houthis over ‘ticking time bomb’ tanker in Red Sea

Updated 10 August 2020

US blasts Houthis over ‘ticking time bomb’ tanker in Red Sea

  • Iran-backed militias renege on agreement to allow UN inspectors aboard stricken vessel holding 1.4 million barrels of oil

AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: The US blasted Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen on Sunday for reneging on a deal to allow UN teams to board a rusting oil storage vessel that threatens an environmental disaster in the Red Sea.

The FSO Safer has been moored 7 km off the coast of Yemen since 1988. It fell into Houthi hands in March 2015, when they took control of the coast around the port city of Hodeidah.

The Houthis briefly bowed to pressure last month and agreed to allow a team of UN engineers to visit the ship, before changing their minds and restating their previous demands for the revenue from the oil. As the vessel’s condition deteriorates there are fears that the 1.4 million barrels of oil it contains will start to seep out.

“The Houthis have failed to follow through on their agreement to allow a UN team on to the Safer,” the White House National Security Council said on Sunday.

“They are courting environmental and humanitarian disaster by obstructing and delaying. For the good of Yemen and the region, the Houthis must allow the UN aboard the Safer.”

A recent water leak into the tanker’s engine prompted warnings of a major disaster.

“The time has come for a resolute response for an outcome,” the Yemen Embassy in Washington said on Sunday. 

“There cannot be more delays or deliberations. UN inspectors must immediately access and assess the Safer oil tanker even without Houthi permission.”

The UK echoed its concerns. “There is another floating disaster off the Yemeni coast with potentially as massive an ecological footprint as the shockwave that engulfed Beirut,” former Middle East minister Alistair Burt said. “The politics preventing safe evacuation of the oil must stop immediately.”