BUCHAREST, Romania – A Romanian priest was sentenced to 14 years in prison Monday for causing the death of a nun during an exorcism ritual. Four nuns were also sentenced in connection with her death.
Irina Maricica Cornici, 23, died in June 2005 at the secluded Holy Trinity convent in the northeast Romanian village of Tanacu.
She was tied up for several days without food or water and chained to a cross during an exorcism ritual led by Daniel Petru Corogeanu, 31, a monk who served as the convent's priest, and four other nuns.
The court in the northeast city of Vaslui convicted Corogeanu and the nuns of holding Cornici captive, resulting in her death. One of the nuns — Nicoleta Arcalianu was sentenced to eight years in prison, and the other three — Adina Cepraga, Elena Otel and Simona Bardanas — received five-year sentences.
Dozens of Corogeanu's supporters packed the courtroom and prayed for the priest, with several bursting into tears when the verdict was announced.
The defendants' lawyers plan to appeal, saying the prison sentences were too harsh.
Cornici's death stunned Romania and prompted the Orthodox Church to promise reforms, including psychological tests for those seeking to enter monasteries.
The church, which has benefited from a religious revival in recent years, condemned the Tanacu ritual as "abominable" and banned Corogeanu from the priesthood and excommunicated the four nuns from the church.
In 1999, when the Vatican issued its first new guidelines since 1614 for driving out devils, it urged priests to take modern psychiatry into account in deciding who should be exorcised.