(Asmara 16/07/2017) Arbi Harnet confirms that his Holiness Abune Antonios, the Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, was indeed present during yesterday’s mass celebrated at the church of St Mary in Asmara, ending 13 years of his house arrest. However, there hasn’t been any concrete confirmation of his reinstatement to his position as head of the Orthodox Church.

During yesterday’s service, a deacon read out the announcement of the reconciliation committee set up by the church (audio attached), stating that the purpose of yesterdays' event was to celebrate the reconciliation within the church. The announcement stated that as the Patriarch is unwell and was thus unable to address the congregation.

Further, the announcement also stated, the reason for the Patriarch’s incarceration as being his association with heretical teaching and overstepping his authority as a patriarch, however Holiness, has maintained his claim of blamelessness in these matters throughout the reconciliation process.

Following mass and the announcement priests repeatedly implored on people and particularly the mothers, reluctant to leave the compound to return home and many people were forced to leave the compound.

Many in the congregation report to the presence of plain clothed security officers who warned people against taking videos or photos of the event. Members of Arbi Harnet were thus only able to record the audio of the announcements as a result.