Body of murdered Italian priest arrives in Rome

.- The body of a murdered Italian priest arrived in Rome by military plane Monday.

Fr. Andrea Santaro, 60, was shot Sunday at his parish, Santa Maria Church, in the Black Sea port city of Trabzon, Turkey. Witnesses said the killer had screamed "Allahu Akbar," Arabic for "God is great," before firing two bullets into the priest’s back as he kneeled to pray, reported the Cihan News Agency.

The priest’s nephew, who was also killed, and a bishop from the Anatolian Churches Union also traveled to Rome.

Turkish police arrested a 16-year-old student Feb. 7 in connection with the murder. Prosecutor Burhan Cobanoglu said the suspect was captured while hiding at a relative’s home in Trabzon at around 3.30 a.m. local time. He was taken to police headquarters for interrogation. A nine-mm handgun during the raid and taken for laboratory tests, reported Cihan News Agency.

Cobanoglu said provisions in the law for minors would be applied as the suspect is below 18 years old; he would not identify the suspect. He also refrained from making any statements about the reason for the killing. 

Some have suggested, however, that the murder was related to the “cartoon crisis” that emerged after a Danish newspaper published 12 insulting cartoons of Prophet Mohammed. The incident has angered Muslims worldwide.

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul told reporters Monday the he does not believe the two incidents are linked, reported Cihan News Agency. "We believe it is entirely an individual act, but we don't know the reason behind it or who encouraged it," he was quoted as saying.


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