Egypt prosecutors probing monk’s death in desert monastery

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Source: Associated Press

By HAMZA HENDAWI

CAIRO (AP) — In an incident that brought the woes of one of the world’s oldest churches back under the spotlight, Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church said on Wednesday that prosecutors are investigating the death of a monk who had until recently served in a monastery northwest of Cairo where the abbot was killed in July.

Two monks — one of whom has been defrocked — are on trial for the death of the abbot, Bishop Epiphanius. The trial opened Sunday and was scheduled to resume Thursday when, according to security officials, the deceased monk was to give his testimony.

The monk, identified by the church by his monastic name Zeinoun al-Maqari, was the “confessional father” of one of the monks on trial, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

The monk’s death was announced in a brief statement issued by the Coptic Orthodox Church. It said the cause of his death at the al-Muharraq monastery in southern Egypt remained unknown. However, security and medical officials said they could not rule out suicide. An initial examination of the body suggested that poisoning might have been the cause of death, they said.

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