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Catholic leaders oppose Iraqi execution

  |   May 21, 2008 at 6:37 PM
MOSUL, Iraq, May 21 (UPI) -- Catholic leaders in Iraq Wednesday opposed the Iraqi government's decision to execute an al-Qaida leader linked to the death of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho.

An Iraqi criminal court sentenced al-Qaida leader Ahmed Ali Ahmed, or Abu Omar, to death for the assassination of Chaldean Archbishop Rahho. Gunmen opened fire on a vehicle carrying the archbishop Feb. 29, killing three of his aides. Rahho's body surfaced March 13 near Mosul.

Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop Shelmon Warduni of Baghdad said the decision by the Iraqi government violated the principles of his church, the Catholic news service Zenit said.

"If he were still alive, Archbishop Rahho himself would not permit that someone would die for him," Warduni told AsiaNews Monday. "Let us recall that the principles that have always inspired the Church are forgiveness and reconciliation."

Warduni had traveled to Mosul in an attempt to secure the archbishop's release.

Kirkuk's Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako echoed Warduni's sentiments, saying, "Violence must not call forth more violence! We are in favor of justice, but not of capital punishment."

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