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Egyptian Court Sentences Priest to Six Months for Excess Church Height

By-Mary Abdelmassih | 6 March 2012

 (AINA) -- A court in Edfu has sentenced Reverend Makarios Bolous, pastor of St. George's Church in the village of Elmarinab, Edfu, in the Aswan province, to six months prison and a fine of 300 pounds for violations in the height of the church building. The court also ordered the removal of the excess height.

The church had received a license from the Governor of Aswan and was still under construction, but it was torched by a Muslim mob on September 30, 2011 (AINA 10-1-2011). Construction workers had started removing the excess height before the torching of the church.
 
"Since then no work has been done to it. We are not allowed to pray there or come near it by order of the authorities," said father Salib el-Deek of the Coptic diocese of Edfu. He said that they had proof that the church applied several times to the police to remove the excess, which it had started before the torching of the church, but were not granted permission. The police records were refused to be admitted as evidence by the court.
 
The church lawyer also presented documents shwing that Rev. Makarios is not the one who is responsible for the removal of the excess height, but the architect and the building contractor, but the court refused to take this into consideration and Father Makarious was convicted.
 
Reverend Salib also said that reverend Makarios is not allowed to go inside the village by the village Muslims, and the government has done nothing about this.
 
Field Marshall Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, had given orders to the governor of Aswan to rebuild the church at the expense of the government. "He even told this to Pope Shenouda personally and was mentioned in all papers," said reverend Salib." But the governor did nothing about it."
 
The church will appeal the ruling.
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