20 February 2013

Tanzania: Slain Priest for Burial On Wednesday

Zanzibar — RELIGIOUS and political leaders are expected to lead hundreds of mourners at the burial of the slain Roman Catholic priest, Father Evarist Mushi, at Kitope Cemetery here on Wednesday.

Bishop Augustino Shao of the Zanzibar Roman Catholic Diocese said that the body will be moved from Mnazi Mmoja Hospital mortuary on Wednesday morning to St Joseph Cathedral in the Stone Town for prayers and last respect before being taken to its final resting place at Kitope village in North Unguja.

Bishop Shao said members of the late Mushi's family, Christian leaders from Dar es Salaam and other parts of Tanzania are expected in Zanzibar for the funeral. He could not confirm immediately whether Presidents Jakaya Kikwete and Dr Ali Mohamed Shein will attend.

The priest was murdered last Sunday by unidentified armed people while he was parking his car at Mtoni church where he was to lead a mass. Meanwhile, the hunt for criminals in Zanzibar was intensified yesterday after unknown people broke into a SILOAM church which was still under construction here and torched it.

No one was injured during the incident. The church watchman identified as Mussa Jackson managed to escape, eyewitnesses and police confirmed. The motive behind the incident at Kianga- Mwera village, South of Unguja Island, is not yet clear, but the same church was destroyed last year following disputes over the land on which it was being erected.

Some residents of Kianga village said that there has been a dispute over the land for quite some time. The church pastor, Penuel Wisdom Elisha, who said he was informed about the incident by the watchman condemned the attack maintaining that they were the legal owner of the land.

Deputy Director of Criminal Investigation (DCI) Yussuf Ilembo, said police are investigating the incident which took place around 3 am. In another development, the European Union Delegation has condemned all recent acts of violence against religious leaders, and most recently the murder of Father Mushi.

"The EU Delegation offers its condolences to their families and all the religious communities who have been affected by recent acts of violence.

"The EU Delegation calls upon the authorities to undertake a full investigation into the killing of the Catholic priest and to continue their investigations into previous attacks on Muslim and Christian leaders and bring those responsible to account," reads the Delegation's statement issued in Dar es Salaam.

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