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  • » 06/03/2011, 00.00

    TURKEY – VATICAN

    Turkish Church remembers Mgr Padovese a year after his murder



    A mass is set to take place in Iskenderun. Mgr Ruggero Franceschini will conduct the service in the presence of the nuncio. As Catholics keep a very low profile, an Istanbul medical commission finds the prelate’s murderer, Murat Altun, fit to stand trial after he was on his way to acquittal on mental health grounds. No trial date has been set yet. An Indian Capuchin priest was attacked last Good Thursday.
    Ankara (AsiaNews) – The Turkish Catholic Church will remember Mgr Luigi Padovese on Sunday, a year after his murder. A mass will be celebrated in Iskenderun cathedral, where Padovese was bishop, in the presence of representatives of various Christians denominations and local authorities. Mgr Ruggero Franceschini, archbishop of Izmir and apostolic vicar to Iskenderun (Anatolia), will preside over the ceremony. Apostolic Nuncio Mgr Antonio Lucibello and a number of Vatican officials who flew in from Rome for that purpose will be present at the service, sources told AsiaNews.

    Catholics are keeping a very low profile in relation to the anniversary, fearing that the memory of the murder might stir controversy again just a few days before the 12 June parliamentary elections. Members of the local Catholic community report in fact a rise in nationalist and fundamentalist feelings that often turn violent against Christians.

    Mgr Luigi Padovese, a member of the Capuchin order, had his throat cut. His assassin, then 26-year-old assassin, Murat Altun, after his arrest, said he attacked the prelate because he was unfriendly towards Islam, was morbidly homosexual, crazy . . . (see Geries Othman, “Mgr Luigi Padovese assassinated in southern Turkey, in AsiaNews, 3 June 2010, and ibid., “Mgr. Padovese's driver charged with murder. Doubts about his ‘insanity’,” in AsiaNews, 4 June 2010).

    After the murder, Mgr Franceschini has repeatedly called for truth to be told and an end to the lies (see Bernardo Cervellera, “Archbishop of Smyrna: The martyrdom of bishop Padovese we want the truth and not "pious lies,” in AsiaNews, 10 June 2010, “Mgr Franceschini: ultranationalist and religious fanatics behind Bishop Padovese's murder,” in AsiaNews, 16 October 2010, and “Mgr Franceschini: The Turkish Church "can not intervene" against falsehoods on Mgr. Padovese,” in AsiaNews, 2 December 2010).

    Until recently, these requests have fallen on deaf years. Sources told AsiaNews that the assassin, who was the bishop’s driver, could have avoided trial on mental health grounds. Yesterday, an Istanbul medical commission ruled instead that he was fit to stand trial. A date for his day in court has not yet been decided.

    Padovese’s death is not an isolated incident. Other Christians have been attacked. Fr Andrea Santoro, a Catholic priest, was killed in 2006 in Trabzon; three Protestants had their throats cut in Malatya in 2007; Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink was murdered in Istanbul in 2007.

    In addition, other Christians have been wounded in murder attempts. The latest occurred in Adana (Anatolia), last Good Thursday, when a group of young people went inside a church to kill its priest, Father Francis, a capuchin from India.

    They were stopped by a group of young Catholics who locked the would-be murderers inside a room, and called police.

    Father Francis is currently in India waiting for tensions to lessen.

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    See also

    13/12/2011 TURKEY
    Mgr Padovese’s murderer is mentally sane
    The attempt by Murat Altun’s defence to have him declared legally insane at the moment of the crime fails. Now the trial can go ahead. The next hearing is set for 22 February.

    11/10/2012 TURKEY
    Hearing in Mgr Padovese murder trial postponed again after five minutes
    The defendant's lawyers ask for a new witness to be heard and some phone conversations to be entered as evidence. Murat Altun, Mgr Luigi Padovese's driver, is the only person accused in the murder, which took place on 3 June 2010. The next hearing is set for 28 October.

    05/10/2011 TURKEY – VATICAN
    Trial of Mgr Padovese’s murder begins
    The trial opened today. Its first hearing ended after 20 minutes, adjourned to next November. Murat Altun’s family comforted him, saying, “God is with you.” The accused said he felt ill; his lawyer asked for his hospitalisation. The judge refused.

    01/12/2011 TURKEY – VATICAN
    Second hearing in the trial of Mgr Padovese’s murderer ends after four minutes
    Murat Altun says he is sick. Judge suspends trial held in Iskenderun until 22 February 2012. Speaking to AsiaNews, sources say that claims of illness might be part of a strategy to demand a mental assessment of the accused, who was originally found fit to stand trial. Turkish Catholics are now waiting for the Vatican to appoint a new bishop to fill the void left by mgr Padovese’s death.

    22/01/2013 TURKEY - VATICAN
    Mgr Padovese's murderer gets 15 years in prison
    Murat Altun, now 29, says he is sorry for killing the bishops but "At that moment, I was not in control of myself." He could be released for good behaviour after six years.



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