Romanian monk is indicted in nun’s death

Author: AP
Date Published: 06/20/2005

BUCHAREST, Romania –A Romanian Orthodox monk has been indicted in the death of a 23-year-old nun in an apparent exorcism in which she was allegedly bound to a cross, had a towel stuffed into her mouth and left without food for three days.

Four nuns also were indicted Sunday in connection with the death of Maricica Irina Cornici of the Holy Trinity convent in northeast Romania. The prosecutor said Monday authorities were awaiting the results of a second autopsy before deciding how to proceed.

Police said Cornici died Wednesday, three days after she was left in a cold room, without any food. She was bound to the cross, with the towel stuffed in her mouth to stop her from uttering any sounds, authorities said.

A medical examiner’s report based on an autopsy concluded the nun died due to dehydration, exhaustion and lack of oxygen, state news agency Rompres reported.

A second autopsy is carried out when there is suspicion of foul play to minimize possible error.

Monk Daniel Petru Corogeanu and the four indicted nuns were charged with depriving a person of liberty resulting in death, but they have not been taken into custody pending results of the second autopsy, prosecutor Ovidiu Berindei told The Associated Press. If convicted, they could face 25 years in prison, said Berindei, prosecutor of Vaslui, a region in northeast Romania.

The monk said Sunday he was trying to “take the devil out of her,” N24 news television reported.

When asked whether the nun was mentally ill and in need of medical help instead of exorcism, he told the television station, “you can’t take the devil out of people with pills.”

The Romanian Orthodox Church has called the death “abominable” and has suspended Corogeanu pending an investigation. However, he refused to recognize the suspension and carried out a funeral service for the nun on Sunday. Cornici will be buried in a separate service in her home village.

Nuns yelled at a vicar who had come to suspend Corogeanu on Sunday, and scuffles broke out, N24 reported. Riot police intervened and order was restored, the television station reported. There were no injuries.