Palestine: Update on court cases regarding nuns of St Mary’s, Bethlehem

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On 10 September we issued a prayer request for the two nuns in St Mary’s Coptic Church and Convent in Bethlehem as they faced three separate court cases.

The court cases relate to attacks on 30 April 2017, when one member of a family illegally occupying convent property assaulted Sister Maria. Another member of the family then attacked a vehicle driven by another nun, Sister Esther, as she was taking witnesses to the police station to make a statement. The assailants were unaware of the presence of a policeman inside the car, who made himself known and stopped the attack, but later in court he failed to give a true account of events. Sister Esther suffered trauma during the attack and has been asked to provide the court with a psychologist’s report.

Sister Maria initiated a legal case against her female assailant and Sister Esther initiated a legal case against two male attackers. In addition, the female assailant of Sister Maria brought a complaint against her, claiming that the nun had in fact assaulted her in the convent property.

On 13 September a hearing was scheduled in the case that the female assailant had opened against Sister Maria, claiming that the nun had attacked her. To Sister Maria’s chagrin, the plaintiff failed to even attend the hearing, which was postponed until 12 November.

The hearing regarding the case Sister Maria initiated against her assailant took place on 19 September. The judge failed to turn up to the hearing and a new date will be scheduled

The family illegally occupying parts of the convent and responsible for the attacks has influential connections with the Palestinian Authorities and it is believed that the justice process is being hindered as a consequence. There have been innumerable delays and postponements of hearings in all three cases.The next hearing is scheduled for 17 October (Sister Esther v. male assailants).

Christians in the West Bank are frustrated with the lack of progress and request prayer that:
a.       The hearings will take place without further delay and that fair and impartial judgements will be given
b.       The judges and court officials will not be prejudiced against the Egyptian nuns
c.       The family illegally occupying the church property will leave and find accommodation elsewhere

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