Two monks charged with bishop’s murder

Two monks have been arrested and charged with a bishop’s murder.

Bishop Epiphanius, 64, the Coptic abbot of an Egyptian monastery about 100 kilometres from Cairo, was found dead at the end of last month.

Police say Epiphanius had been struck with a sharp instrument which had left him with fractures in the back of his skull.

A former monk, Wael Saad, who was known as Isaiah, confessed to using an iron bar to bludgeon the bishop.

Saad was being investigated by the bishop for violating rules of monasticism.

A second monk is also in custody and being investigated. The Egyptian state-run MENA news agency identified the 33-year-old monk by his monastic name, Valtos, and said he is under police guard after an attempted suicide.

Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria’s Coptic Orthodox Church met Saad’s brother on Tuesday and has also spoken on the phone to Saad’s mother.

Tawadros said the crime would not impact on Saad’s brother, who is also a monk in Upper Egypt. He explained Wael Saad’s wrongdoing should not reflect on the family who had nothing to do with the crime.

According to Vatican News, Epiphanius was a key figure in the modern history of the Coptic Orthodox Church. He lived “intense spiritual relationships” with his friends and members of the monastic communities of the Catholic Church.

Besides having a degree in medicine, Epiphanius was a researcher and scholar. He took part in the 10th international Conference on Coptic studies in Rome in 2012 and, in 2013, was elected Abbot by the 100 monks of the Monastery of Saint Macarius.

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