A Romanian monk and four nuns have been charged with murder after a nun died during an exorcism in which she was crucified and left without food for three days, a prosecutor said Thursday.

The case has caused an outrage in Romania. Daniel Petre Corogeanu (search), the detained monk, has been defiant, insisting he was trying to take the devils out of 23-year-old Maricica Irina Cornici.

She died last week in a northeast Romania (search) convent after she was bound to a cross, had a towel stuffed into her mouth and left without food for three days. The four were charged in Vaslui Wednesday, as people stood outside the prosecutor's office, with some supporting the monk and nuns and others calling for them to be convicted.

On Sunday, nuns yelled at a vicar who had come to suspend Corogeanu, 29, and scuffles broke out, the television station N24 reported. Riot police had to restore order. The Holy Trinity convent has been closed by the Romanian Orthodox Church (search).

The monk told the TV station he was trying to take the devil out of the nun.

"You can't take the devil out of people with pills," he said. "You cure [possession by] the devils with fasting and prayer."

He added the nun had to be restrained because she was violent, but he denied that she was starved.