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    Details from months preceding priest's murder start to emerge

    Hürriyet Haber
    07 Şubat 2006 - 10:39Son Güncelleme : 07 Şubat 2006 - 11:00

    An interesting detail has emerged in the hunt to find Priest Andrea Santoro's murderers. Santoro, who was shot twice in the back on Sunday afternoon in the Santa Maria Catholic church where he worked in Trabzon, was leading a mass in the church on Saturday afternoon, when a group of teenagers was witnessed entering the church through the back door. Witnesses Terane Atayev and Gariya Guliyeva say that the teenagers, all of whom were young males, started walking about the church in "a strange manner."

    According to the witnesses, Father Santoro warned the young men, "Right now we are in the middle of prayer. The church is not open to touring. If you want though, you can sit in the pews and listen." The young men then apparently sat down at first, but then went outside again. Witnesses say they heard a loud popping sound at the time, but that no one got up from their seats, as the mass was in session. Later, when the church emptied out, the group of young men had disappeared. Witnesses Atayev and Guliyeva maintain that the computer generated images of one of the suspects that was broadcast on television following the priest's murder strongly resembled the youths that had entered the church so strangely on Saturday.   Priest Santoro and local youth seem to have had some tension Other details emerging seem to point to a relative level of discord between Priest Santoro and area youths in general, particularly teenagers that had been throwing firecrackers into the church garden. Some neighbors attest that a few months ago, the priest had angrily held onto the hood of a youth who had insulted him in the neighborhood, and that when local citizens intervened, the insisted that the priest let him go.  Priest Santoro had, over recent months, requested security at the church, though none had been provided. The investigation into his murder is ongoing.
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