Two Jesuit priests murdered in Moscow

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Moscow, Oct 29 (UNI) Two Jesuit priests were found murdered in their flat in central Moscow last evening, a Russian Catholic Church official said today.

''They did not answer telephone calls, so their brothers went to their apartment, where they found them dead,'' Igor Kovalevsky, the General Secretary of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Russia, told reporters.

Otto Messmer, who heads the Russian Independent Region of the Society of Jesus, and Colombian priest Victor Betancourt, were found dead in their apartment on Petrovka Street, with severe injuries on their bodies. The motive for the killing is not known, Kovalevsky said.

Earlier reports said the priests were injured in a fight near their house involving two other individuals.

A local police source told RIA Novosti news agency the clerics died from injuries sustained in the fighting. Eyewitness said a man of Hispanic appearance, aged around 40, killed the priests, the agency reported.

The Russian Independent Region of the Society of Jesus, which was officially registered in June 1992, carries out educational and missionary work throughout the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).


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