Pope Shenouda rejects international investigation into Maspero violence

Pope Shenouda III, the head of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, rejected demands by some families of victims of the Maspero violence on 9 October to open an international investigation into the issue, claiming that their mournful thoughts are causing them to make the request.

The Church can not accept the demand given the current situation in Egypt, he said, adding that it could negatively impact the "national unity that we are all defending."

During a ceremony held Thursday evening at Saint Mark's Cathedral in Abbasseya, Shenouda expressed his deep sorrow to the families of the victims and said he understood their grief.

The Church will support the families in all legal procedures, Shenouda said, noting that he has established a legal office in the cathedral to help guide the families to the proper avenues to achieve justice.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has also demanded the testimonies of those who witnessed the incident and called on them to submit all videos of it to the military prosecutor, Shenouda said. He added that SCAF members have promised an objective and impartial investigation into the issue.

The church has clarified to the members of the ruling military council its perspective on what happened through the stories and the videos of eyewitnesses, and expressed serious interest in determining the responsibility of all involved, Shenouda said.

Antoine Adel, a member of the political bureau of the Maspero Youth Union, revealed that a Coptic lawyer in Switzerland has filed a lawsuit in the North Africa International Court against the Egyptian government and justice minister for their failure to compel the military prosecutor to investigate the incident.

Awad Shafik, an Egyptian lawyer in Geneva, filed a suit on behalf of those killed, wounded and imprisoned after Maspero, Adel said during a press conference held Thursday by the union in response to a SCAF conference held last week to answer questions about the incident. He added that the court has accepted the case and it is currently being investigated.

Ehab Aziz the general coordinator of the Movement of Egyptian Copts, said the North Africa International Court is the first step in international litigation over the incident.

At least 28 people were killed in the violence unleashed during a Coptic-led march on 9 October to protest recent Muslim attacks on churches in Egypt. The forensic authority's initial report says most of the dead were civilians. While eyewitnesses claim to have seen army soldiers firing at protesters and running them over with armored personnel carriers, the SCAF has repeatedly denied its soldiers did anything wrong.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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