Andrea Santoro

Andrea Santoro (7 September 1945, in Priverno, Italy 5 February 2006, in Trabzon, Turkey) was a Roman Catholic priest in Turkey, murdered in the Santa Maria Church in Trabzon where he served as a member of the Catholic Church's Fidei donum missionary program. This was one of the high-profile incidents, along with the murder of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink and the Zirve Publishing House murders that focused attention on hate crimes in Turkey.[1]

On 5 February 2006 he was shot dead from behind while kneeling in prayer in the church. A witness heard the perpetrator shouting "Allahu Akbar".[2][3] The motive of the attack is not known,

Oğuzhan Akdin, a 16-year-old high school student, was arrested two days after the shooting, carrying a 9mm pistol. An investigation by the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations on stolen weaponry revealed that this gun had been part of a batch of guns that the US had given to the Iraqi army but which had gone missing.[4] The student told police he had been influenced by the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy.[5] The murder was preceded by massive anti-Christian propaganda in the Turkish popular press.[6] In the three months before his murder, Father Santoro's telephone had been tapped by the Turkish police in Trabzon.[7]

On 10 October 2006, the accused Oğuzhan Akdin was sentenced to 18 years, 10 months, and 20 days in prison for "premeditated murder" by a juvenile court in Trabzon.[8] According to the apostolic vicar to Anatolia, Msgr. Luigi Padovese, neither the killer nor his mother showed any remorse during the trial. She even compared her son to Mehmet Ali Ağca, who tried to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1981, and said that his deed "was committed in the name of Allah and was a gift to the state and the nation".[9]

As the murderer of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink also came from Trabzon and was also under 18 years of age, Turkish police are investigating possible connections between the slayings of Santoro and Dink.[10] In October 2007, Turkey's Court of Appeals affirmed the jail sentence for the teenage killer of Father Santoro.[3] In the aftermath of the 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt, the killer was prematurely released from jail after serving less than 10 years of his sentence.[11]

Pope Benedict XVI recalled his martyrdom during his homily at the Shrine of Meryem Ana Evi (House of the Virgin Mary) in Ephesus on 29 November 2006.[12]

At Don Santoro's funeral at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the vicar of the Diocese of Rome, mentioned in his homily that the possible beatification process for Don Santoro may be opened after February 2011. His assassination is marked annually by the Don Andrea Santoro Association, which is organized in part by Archbishop Angelo De Donatis, the Vicar General of Rome and a seminary classmate of Santoro.[13]

See also


  1. Göktan, Deniz Ünan (2017-06-20). Hate Crime in Turkey: Implications of Collective Action, Media Representations and Policy Making. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4438-9626-9.
  2. "Arrestato l'omicida di don Andrea Santoro". Corriere della Sera. 2006-02-08.
  3. 1 2 Reuters: Turkish court upholds sentence for priest's killer, 4 October 2007
  4. Gerger, Adn.n (2007-02-23). "Kayıp silahlar Türkiye'de kullanıldı". NTV-MSNBC (in Turkish). Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  5. "Murder of priest 'religious revenge'". Independent Online. 2006-02-08.
  6. "Goldenes Kreuz unter der Bluse". Der Spiegel. 2006-09-17.
  7. Santoro vor seinem Tod abgehört. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 22 February 2008, #45, p. 6
  8. MISNA (by SperoNews): Turkey: Boy gets 18 years for murder of priest, 10 October 2006
  9. Concerns over the Pope’s visit to Turkey after Father Santoro’s murderer is sentenced Archived 11 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine., Asianews, 11 October 2006
  10. The New York Times: Turkish Police Arrest Teenage Suspect in Editor’s Killing, 20 January 2007
  11. Giorgio Bernardelli: Turkey: Fr. Santoro’s murderer is set free, La Stampa, 30 August 2016
  12. "Apostolic Journey of Pope Benedict to Turkey". 2006-11-29. Archived from the original on 21 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-22.
  13. Passantino, Filippo (6 February 2017). "Don Andrea Santoro, maestro della "pace di Dio"" [Don Andrea Santoro, master of the "peace of God"]. RomaSette (in Italian). Retrieved 30 May 2017.
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