Turkey: Boy gets 18 years for murder of priest

A Turkish court today sentenced a 16-year-old boy to 18 years in jail for the murder of the Italian Catholic priest Fr. Andrea Santoro, killed last February in the Black Sea city of Trazbon.

The Turkish boy was arrested two days after the shooting.

According to the court of Ankara, the boy shot the priest while he was praying at the altar in the church of St. Mary, and was found guilty of “premeditated murder, possessing a weapon without a licence and endangering public security”.

Witnesses say the boy shouted “Allahu Akbar” (Arabic for “God is greatest”) before shooting the priest. Fr. Santoro, 61, was from the Italian province of Latina.

Fr. Santoro was ordained a priest in Rome in 1970, after serving many years in a parish in the Italian capital. In 2000 he departed for Turkey. In Trazbon he was particularly dedicated to promoting dialogue between Christians and Muslims, in a naiton always ‘bridge’ between cultures. He had founded the organisation for inter-religious dialogue “A window for the Middle East”.

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