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Egypt hangs Coptic monk for killing of abbot

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Egyptian authorities on Sunday executed a Coptic Christian monk convicted over the 2018 killing of the abbot of an ancient desert monastery, the monk’s family told AFP.

“We were told at 8 am (0600 GMT) this morning that the execution took place in Damanhour prison and I am on my way to pick up the body,” said Hany Saad Tawadros, the monk’s brother.

Capital punishment for civilian convicts in Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, is carried out by hanging.

An Egyptian court last year confirmed the death sentence for the monk Isaiah, whose original name is Wael Saad Tawadros, over the killing of Bishop Epiphanius.

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Another monk convicted for his role in the crime was sentenced to life in prison.

Epiphanius, the abbot of the Saint Macarius monastery, was found with a bleeding head wound after being bludgeoned to death in July 2018, in a case that shocked the Middle East’s largest religious minority.

Prosecutors said Isaiah confessed to beating the cleric with a metal bar as the second monk, Philotheos, kept watch.

Authorities blamed the killing on unspecified “differences” between the bishop and the two monks.

The church later defrocked the pair and placed a one-year moratorium on ordaining new monks.

Coptic Christians make up about 10-15 percent of Egypt’s predominantly Sunni Muslim population of over 100 million.

The country’s vast deserts are home to some of Christianity’s oldest monasteries.

Last month, Egypt executed at least nine people over the storming of a police station in 2013 in which 13 policemen were killed.

Human rights group Amnesty International said it had noted “a significant spike” in recorded executions in Egypt.

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