Egypt’s top appeals court yesterday upheld a death sentence against a monk over the 2018 murder of a bishop at an Egyptian monastery north of Cairo according to judicial sources. The Court of Cassation also commuted the death sentence against another monk to life.
Both monks were defrocked by Pope Tawadros II, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, after the killing of Bishop Anbar Epiphanius, who was an abbot at St Macarius Monastery.
Wael Saad known by his monastic name, Isaiah El-Maqary, had his death sentence upheld, while Ramon Rasmy, known as Faltaous El-Makary, was given a reduced sentence to life imprisonment, which is 25 years in Egypt. The sentences are final and cannot be appealed.
According to Ahram Online, both convicts had ambushed the bishop on his way from his residence to the monastery, where Saad hit him on the head with a steel bar, while Rasmy stood guard. The 64-year-old was found dead with a head injury in an incident which sent shockwaves across Egypt, especially among the Coptic community.
The murder led to strict measures by the Coptic Orthodox Church being implemented to regulate monastic life. These included a freeze on accepting new monks, a ban on monks’ use of social media, a ban on building non-sanctioned places of worship, and barring monks from leaving monasteries without official permission.