The Palestinian Authority police on Sunday night released from prison the archbishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church, Swerios Malki Murad, who was arrested a day earlier in Bethlehem.
Palestinian prosecutors said that the archbishop was interrogated following a complaint against him by a woman belonging to his Syriac community. Although they refused to discuss the nature of the complaint, Palestinians said that the woman had accused the head of the church of “sexual assault.” Archbishop Murad was released on bail following protests by members of his community and prominent Christian figures in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. However, he was summoned for further interrogation on Monday.
PA policemen arrested the top clergyman on Saturday night as he was on his way back from a celebration in the nearby al-Khader village.
Archbishop Theodosius (Hanna) of Sebastia of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem denounced the PA police for the way they handled the case. He said that it was “inconceivable" that an archbishop and church leader should be arrested in a humiliating way. “This is completely unjustified and unacceptable,” he added. “They should respect his religious and spiritual status.”
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