News24

Turkish Catholic leader beheaded

2010-06-08 21:43

Rome - The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Turkey, killed last week by his driver, was decapitated in a "ritual Muslim sacrifice," the head of a missionary news agency said on Tuesday.

After the murder of Luigi Padovese, the driver reportedly shouted from the roof of the victim's house that he had killed the "great Satan," adding Allah akbar ("God Is Great"), a Turkish journalist told AsiaNews.

The news agency for overseas missionaries said Padovese "was stabbed in his home, and managed to leave his home to ask for help," AsiaNews director Bernardo Cervellera told Italy's Sky TG24 all-news television channel.

Vatican spokesperson Federico Lombardi, contacted by the religious news agency I-media, said he was awaiting clarification of the reports but would neither deny nor confirm them.

Turkish news reports said the 26-year-old alleged killer, Murat Altun, had been released from a psychiatric ward a few days before the murder.

He told police he had had a "divine revelation," the reports said.

Local authorities have ruled out a political motive in the killing, and Altun's lawyer and mother both said he had psychological problems.

The 63-year-old Italian bishop, Vicar Apostolic of Anatolia since 2004, was killed at his summer house in a Mediterranean seaside town near Iskenderun, close to the Syrian border in southern Turkey.

Pope Benedict XVI said shortly after the murder that it was "certainly not a political or religious murder but rather a personal affair".