.- A court in Turkey has sentenced a Muslim teenager to 18 years in prison for the killing, last February 5th, of Italian priest Father Andrea Santoro at the Church of Holy Mary, in Trebisonda.
According to the Turkish news agency Anatolia, the court found the 16 year-old youth, identified only with the initials O.A., guilty of premeditated homicide, illegal possession of firearms, and disturbance of the public order.
Prosecutors argued for a life sentence, but taking into the account the youth’s status as a minor, the court issued a lighter sentence.
Although the motive behind the killing has not yet been determined, several witnesses said during the trial that they heard the perpetrator shout “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is great”) while he fired upon Father Andrea who was celebrating Mass.
The 16 year-old told investigators he was influenced by the publication of cartoons depicting the Mohammed in some European newspapers.
In the days following the killing, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, Vicar of the Diocese of Rome, announced he would ask for the opening of the cause of beatification and canonization of the Italian priest, saying “all of the essential elements of Christian martyrdom” were present in the case.