Italian priest killed in Nairobi

January 17, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 17 – An Italian priest who had been doing missionary work in Kenya since the late 1950’s was killed in Nairobi on Friday.

Father Joseph Bertaina, 82, was found dead in his office at the Consolata Institute of Philosophy in Karen with both hands and legs tied.

Police and witnesses said they also found papers stuffed in his mouth in a mid-morning attack that shocked fellow priests and students at the college.

A Priest, Fr Hipoliti Marandu who is also a Rector at the College told Capital News he had just left the slain church leader’s office a few minutes before the crime took place.

“I had just left his office at about 11 am in the morning when I was called by people who had seen two men and a woman flee his office. I immediately dashed out and we pursued them,” he said.

“We shouted and the guards were able to detain a lady (who was among those escaping) but the two men jumped the fence and fled,” he added.

When they went to check in the priest’s office, they found him on the ground.

“He was tied both hands and legs and had a lot of papers stuffed in his mouth. He died a very painful death,” Fr Marandu said.

Police were later called to help transfer the body to the mortuary and took the detained woman into police custody.

Police Spokesman Erick Kiraithe told Capital News that the woman was being interrogated by detectives.

“She is our prime suspect because he was seen running out of that office. She was also found with a cheque belonging to the slain priest,” he said on telephone.

Fr Marandu told Capital News the slain priest was among the pioneer missionaries in Kenya.

According to him, the late Father Joseph Bertaina arrived in Kenya in the late 50’s when he began his charity work on completion of studies in South Africa.

“He has been helping a lot of poor people in Kenya, particularly the prisoners,” he said.


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