In the early fall of 2010, I wrote this Catholic World Report piece on the mysterious and gruesome murder of Bishop Luigi Padovese in Iskenderun:
Iskenderun, a port city on the Eastern shore of the Mediterranean, near
the Syrian border, is the seat of the Apostolic Vicariate of Anatolia,
one of three Latin ecclesiastical jurisdictions in Turkey. The apostolic
vicar, Bishop Luigi Padovese, an Italian Capuchin who also served as
president of the Turkish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, met with
government authorities on Thursday morning, June 3, 2010, to discuss
problems affecting religious minorities.
Later, at around 1:00 pm, the bishop answered the door to his residence
and was accosted and stabbed repeatedly by his driver, Murat Altun.
Police arrested the 26-year-old, unmarried Muslim man that same
afternoon; the suspect was carrying the murder weapon and confessed to
having killed his employer.
The Vatican nuncio in Turkey, Msgr. Antonio Lucibello, speaking on June 3
to the ANSA news agency, confirmed initial, sketchy reports of the
bishop’s violent death and the driver’s confession. “It’s strange,
because I have always seen the man as someone who was very devoted to
According to an account by Geries Othman for AsiaNews (affiliated with
PIME, the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions), a witness who
worked as the bishop’s assistant testified that the bishop was stabbed
in the house but had the strength to go outdoors and call for help. When
he fell to the ground in the yard, he was decapitated.
Neighbors said they heard the bishop cry out, but they also heard Murat
shouting, immediately after the murder, “I killed the great Satan! Allah Akbar
[Allah is great]!” The modus operandi was identical to that of members
of Islamic fundamentalist groups as they carry out executions.
Now, over two years later, Geries Othman reports for Asia News that Altun has been sentenced for the murder:
(AsiaNews) - Murat Altun, the young man who killed Bishop Luigi
Padovese [,former Vicar Apostolic of Anatolia (Turkey),] on 3 June
2010, was sentenced to
15 years in prison. The verdict came [on January 22, 2013,] at 1 pm
According to Turkish legal experts, he has another 12 more years in
since he has already been in jail for three years. In case of good
he might be released after six years and five months.
Altun was 26 years old at the time of the murder. At the end of the trial, he said that he
“was sorry for killing Monsignore Luigi, who was the last person
who could harm him. At that moment, I was not in control of myself.”
his arrest, Altun wavered in the explanations he gave for slitting the prelate’s
throat, blaming successively mental illness, an Islamic ritual or a morbid
homosexual relationship.... Altun’s lawyers pleaded insanity, presenting
medical assessments indicating that their client was not mentally competent to
June 2011, a medical commission in Istanbul determined that the accused was
mentally competent to stand trial. The latter however proved frustrating as
hearings were quickly and repeatedly postponed. On several occasions, various prelates called on the Turkish
government to shed light on the murder.