A demolition order had been issued for the church building in the Atfeeh area of Giza five days prior to the clashes between Muslims and Coptic Christians in the area, judicial sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm on Monday.
The sources said that the building is owned by a man called Eid Atteya, 63, was unlicensed, and was not intended to be a place for worship, but rather a house.
The Archbishop of Atfeeh said on Friday that a mob of hundreds stormed the Church of al-Amir Tadros (Prince Tadros) on Friday in the village of Kafr al-Waselin. The mob chanted hostile slogans demanding the demolition of the church, before storming the site, the Archbishop of Atfeeh said.
The sources added that the prosecution ruled out charges of storming a religious institution against 15 of the detainees, after it was proved that the owner of the house did not obtain permission to build a church.
According to Giza Prosecution’s investigation, Atteya demolished part of his family’s home for more than 40 years and built a church on 250 square meters. The three-storey building consists of a nursery and two floors for prayers.
The prosecution’s investigation team heard the testimonies of a National Security Agency officer and a Criminal Investigations officer.
The first said that his investigation into the incident found that dozens of Coptic Christians had frequently visited Atteya’s house for the last three months to perform prayers and that he noticed the installation of surveillance cameras on the doors of the house, besides the bells, which confirm that the property was not used as a place for living.
The National Security officer said that other fugitives were being identified, for taking part in the violence, inciting sectarian strife and threatening social peace.
According to the investigations, the Criminal Investigations officer said that he received a report that about 600 people stormed the house of Atteya, and when he moved to the house he was sure that it was a building dedicated to Coptic Christian prayer and that there was damage inside it.
Investigations said that the CD had been confiscated for the surveillance cameras, which recorded the storming of the house and the attack on its owner, son and brother. The CD was sent to the competent technical bodies of the Ministry of Interior to study the video and identify the rioters.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm