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Turkey: bishop's murder was political, Church leaders fear

June 10, 2010

Church leaders in Turkey are raising serious questions about the murder of Bishop Luigi Padovese, and rejecting the official explanation that the bishop's assailant was emotionally disturbed.

Bishop Padovese's driver, Murat Altun, has confessed to the stabbing murder. Turkish police have said that Altun is deranged, while a lawyer for the assailant has hinted that the crime was the result of a homosexual encounter. Church leaders in Turkey have dismissed both explanations.

An Italian Catholic journalist, Father Filippo di Giacomo, has said that Bishop Padovese had been warned by Turkish security officials that his driver was involved with radical Islamic groups. The bishop, who was preparing to travel to Cyprus to join Pope Benedict there, cancelled his plans because he feared Altun might be involved in an attempt on the Pope's life, the Italian journalist wrote.

The Italian-born Archbishop Ruggero Franceschini of Isker, Turkey, offered another theory, telling the AsiaNews service that Altun may have been involved with radical groups seeking to destabilize the Turkish government. Archbishop Franceschini, who knows Altun personally, said that he could vouch for the driver's sanity. The archbishop added that Altun was not particularly religious, so that his motives were likely political.

Archbishop Franceschini revealed that he had met with Turkish authorities to demand an honest explanation for the killing, and an end to the "pious lies" that have been offered to date. "We want the whole truth, and nothing but the truth," he said.


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