Palestine: Court hearing due for St Mary’s Coptic Convent

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In the last two years, MEC has issued several prayer requests for two nuns in St Mary’s Coptic Church and Convent in Bethlehem regarding three separate court cases. The nuns request prayer for a court hearing scheduled for 25 March.

The court cases relate to attacks on 30 April 2017, when one female 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 police office inside the car, who made himself known and stopped the attack, but later in court failed to give a true account of events.

Sister Maria pressed charges against her female assailant and Sister Esther did the same against two male attackers. Additionally, the female who assaulted Sister Maria brought a complaint against her, claiming that the nun had in fact assaulted her on the convent property.

On 25 March there will be a court hearing in the case Sister Esther brought against the men who attacked and damaged the car in April 2017. Sister Esther suffered trauma during the attack and was asked by the judge to provide the court with a psychologist’s report. However, at a hearing on 29 October 2018, the court doctor pronounced the psychologist’s report inadmissible.

On 31 January 2019 there was a final hearing in the case against Sister Maria’s assailant. The judge found her guilty, but fined her only 25 Jordanian Dinars (US$35).

In the case the female assailant initiated against Sister Maria, the plaintiff herself has consistently failed to attend the hearings.The next hearing in this case is scheduled for 16 May 2019.

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.

Sisters Maria and Esther are frustrated with the judicial process. They request prayer that:

a.       The hearing on 25 March will take place without further delay and that a fair and impartial judgement will be given with an appropriate punishment in case of a guilty verdict
b.       The judges and court officials will not be prejudiced against the nuns
c.       The family illegally occupying the church property will leave and find accommodation elsewhere

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