No progress made in cleric’s murder

No progress made in cleric’s murder

Vercihan Ziflioğlu ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
No progress made in cleric’s murder

Padovese was murdered in 2010 allegedly by his driver.

The investigation into the murder of a Catholic bishop in the Mediterranean district of İskenderun cannot advance any further due to a lack of support from the dead cleric’s family, according to a lawyer involved in the case.

Ercan Eriş, a close friend of Luigi Padovese – the pope’s apostolic vicar in Anatolia – who was murdered in 2010, told the Hürriyet Daily News via email that the case would only be able to move forward if the slain bishop’s family became involved.

“Father Padovese personally got involved in the Santoro trial because he was worried the case was not going to be brought to light, as [Santoro’s] family had shown no interest [in the suit]. Now, his own family is not assuming [responsibility] for the case either, just like Father Santoro’s family. What a shame,” Eriş said in reference to Andrea Santoro, a priest in the Sancta Maria Catholic Church in the Black Sea province of Trabzon who was murdered in 2006.

Murat Altun, Padovese’s driver, has been charged with the murder. Authorities ruled out a political motive for the killing immediately after the incident, but church authorities have subsequently hinted that there might have been a political dimension to the murder.

Padovese’s family lives in Milan, Eriş said, adding that he had met them but had not been able to convince them to become involved in the case.

“They are not giving any explanations. Perhaps, it may be an attitude stemming from the Catholic faith. The family in the Santoro murder also presented a similar attitude,” Eriş said.

The Vatican reportedly cannot become involved in the trials either, as the Turkish Code of Criminal Procedure does not permit such intervention. The case is still being followed on behalf of the Vatican, however, by Ruggero Franceschini, who is the archbishop of the Aegean province of İzmir, the apostolic vicar of Anatolia and the new president of the Turkish Bishops’ Conference.

“The Vatican does not reserve the right to intervene in the case due to [existing] laws. We cannot follow the suit. We feel bitter,” Fransceshini’s spokesperson, Rev. Marko, told the Hürriyet Daily News via a telephone interview. The cleric chose to withhold his last name due to safety concerns.

“We could not issue any formal demands about the course of the trial, as the family did not get involved in the Santoro trial. The investigation and prosecution in both murders are conducted solely by the Chief Prosecutor’s Office. Evidence from the crime scene that had not been handed over to the judiciary two years after the conclusion of the Santoro trial had created question marks about the soundness of the investigation. I hope things do not repeat themselves in this trial, too,” Eriş said, adding that he was deeply worried about the current state of affairs in the trial due to the lack of any parties who would act on behalf of the slain bishop.

Neither of the two trials has yielded a satisfactory investigative process, he said. Everyone who reads the files will be able to see that certain issues have not yet been fully uncovered during the investigation phase, he added.

“For instance, even though a certain GSM line had never been used to make contact with any other phone numbers for four years, the murder suspect used the same line three hours prior to the murder. Why?” he said.

The next hearing for the case is set to be held on Feb. 22.

Eriş said he used to be Padovese’s lawyer back when he was still alive and added that he held a deep veneration for Padovese as a human being.

“He was a cleric and academic courageous enough to organize a recitation of [the Muslim call to prayer] in church and so much at peace with himself as to arrange for a conference on Islam to be given to faculty members from the [Muslim] school of divinity. He aided hundreds of people by concealing his identity,” Eriş said.

Altun said in the trial proceedings that Padovese had offered to engage in a homosexual relationship with him. A trial as important as this one cannot be subjected to a multi-pronged investigation due to such obnoxious allegations, Erciş added.

“The case is unfortunately not receiving the attention it deserves due to the allegations,” he said.