The Damanhour Criminal Court in Beheira began its first session on Sunday in the trial of two suspects in the murder of Bishop Epiphanius, head of the Saint Macarius Monastery.
Main defendant Ash’eyaa al-Makary (Wael Saad Tawadros) pleaded not guilty in the murder of Epiphanius during Sunday’s session.
Defense attorneys for Ash’eyaa claimed earlier this month that their defendant was forced into confessing, adding that their client said that he was tortured physically and psychologically by police during interrogations.
The second defendant, Faltaous al-Makary (Raymon Rasmy Mansour) did not attend Sunday’s session. His attorney asked the Coptic Orthodox Church to issue a statement on if his client was deprived from the ecclesiastical rank and disgraced or not. The lawyer also demanded to discuss witnesses in the case.
The trial on today saw tightened security measures.
Last month Bishop Epiphanius was found dead in front of his monastic cell at the Saint Macarius Monastery, Wadi al-Natroun. Monks at the scene immediately notified al-Natroun police, who discovered that the Bishop had fractures in the back of his skull, leading to suspicion of murder.
The Public Prosecution office in Alexandria concluded investigations into the case last month, and referred two monks to criminal trial over the murder of Bishop Epiphanius.
Ash’eyaa confessed to the killing earlier this month, and was deprived of his ecclesiastical rank over behavior that violated his duties.
Ash’eyaa claimed that he hit Epiphanius three times on his head using an iron tube, which was prepared for the crime. He added that his partner in the crime Faltaous had been making sure the coast was clear until the deed was done.
He said that he worked alongside with fellow monk Faltaous to carry out the killing. Faltaous later attempted suicide on August 6 to escape punishment, and underwent police watch at the Anglo American Hospital in Zamalek while recovering.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm