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Driver charged with murder of Catholic bishop in Turkey

A Turkish court has charged the driver of one of the country's top Roman Catholic bishops with his murder. He has been identified as Murat Altun.

Luigi Padovese walks in front of the coffin of his slain fellow clergyman Andrea Santoro

Luigi Padovese leads mourners for slain fellow clergyman Andrea Santoro in 2006

The driver of Roman Catholic bishop Luigi Padovese has been charged with the bishop's murder by a court in the southern Turkish city of Iskenderun.

The 63-year-old cleric, Italian national and the Vicar Apostolic for the Anatolia region was found dead in his home on Thursday, after being attacked and stabbed.

The Vatican told Italian news agency ANSA that "it is a terrible… incredible killing."

Twenty-six-year-old Murat Altun had worked for Padovese for the past four and a half years and is said to have mental health problems.

Padovese's assistant, Sister Eleonora de Stefano, told the missionary news agency MISNA that the suspect "suffered from severe depression" for at least the past two weeks.

She said the driver and Padovese were friends and the bishop "was trying to help him get better."

Anti-Christian hostility

Catholics are a tiny minority in mainly Muslim Turkey and there have been a number of attacks against Christians, fueling fears of rising nationalism and hostility against non-Muslims.

Three Protestants were murdered at a Christian publishing house in the eastern city of Malatya in April 2007 and another Italian Catholic priest was shot dead in a church in Trabzon, northern Turkey, in 2006.

In July 2006, a Catholic French cleric was stabbed in Samsun, also in the north.

ng/cb/dpa/AP/AFP
Editor: Martin Kuebler

DW.DE