CAIRO: A Minya judge has ruled that 15 people involved in the violent Abo Fana monastery clashes last May be detained for an extra 45 days.
The ruling ignored the defense committee’s request to postpone the ruling for one week when the final settlement is to be signed.
“As a representative of Pope Shenouda III [at the trial], we will refuse any settlement in the criminal case. We are leaving it in the hands of the judicial system, Eid Labib, member of the arbitration committee, told the press.
On his part, MP Alaa Hassanein, member of the arbitration committee announced that whether or not a settlement is reached regarding the criminal case, celebrations will be held on Tuesday to mark the end of the land dispute which had triggered sectarian strife.
The Coptic Church in Minya and the Arab tribes had reached an agreement on Aug. 13 whereby the Abo Fana Monastery will waive 25 acres of agriculture land and 70 acres of non-agricultural land bringing the total area of the monastery to 505 acres instead of an original 600 acres.
In exchange, the Arab tribes agreed to allow the monastery to build a wall around the monastery’s land and for the people involved in the clashes to be taken to court with no chance of appeal to civil society councils, reported the Middle East News Agency (MENA) at the time.
The two parties signed the agreement at the home of Abdel Qader Abdel Rehim, an Arab tribesman, in the presence of Hassanein and other members of the arbitration committee that was formed to investigate the attacks and settle the dispute. A number of security officials were also present.
At the end of May clashes over land surrounding the Abo Fana Monastery in Mallawi, broke out between monks and some 60 Bedouins living in the Qasr Hur village adjacent to the monastery.
The attack was sparked by a wall being built around the monastery.
Although the monastery claims to have received official approval to build the wall, Muslim residents protested the building of the wall in the surrounding agricultural land claiming it would damage the crops.
They also claimed to own the land surrounding the monastery.
Khalil Mohammed Ibrahim was killed in the clashes and two novices from the monastery were taken to a hospital in the nearby town of Mallawi in critical condition.
Pope Shenouda approved the settlement while still in the US to receive medical treatment.
According to MENA he agreed on the settlement out of concern about social harmony in Egypt and so as not to give anyone the opportunity to take advantage of the situation in order to defame Egypt’s image.