An Iraqi court has sentenced an al Qaeda leader to death for the March murder of Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho.
The Iraqi Central Criminal Court imposed the death sentence on Ahmed Ali Ahmed, known as Abu Omar, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement, Reuters reports.
Mosul Archbishop Rahho was abducted on February 29 after gunmen attacked his car and killed his driver and two guards. His body was found in a shallow grave two weeks later.
At the time, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki blamed al Qaeda and vowed to bring the bishop's killers to justice.
His Shi'ite Muslim-led government has been accused by members of Iraq's dwindling Christian minority of not doing enough to protect them from violent persecution.
Dabbagh said Ahmed was a leader of Sunni Islamist al Qaeda and had been sought for his involvement in a number of "terror crimes against the people of Iraq."
He described Rahho as an advocate of peace and tolerance among Iraqis.
Gunman shoots three at Los Angeles parish festival
In another story, PR Inside reports a man with a semiautomatic rifle opened fire at a church festival on Saturday, wounding his ex-wife and two bystanders before festival goers grabbed him and held him for police, authorities and a church official said.
Witnesses described a chaotic scene, with people screaming and running for the exit after gunfire rang out on a grassy field where the festival was being set up at the St. John Baptist de la Salle Catholic parish in Granada Hills, a suburb of Los Angeles.
"I heard bang, bang, bang, bang. It sounded like balloons popping," said Jeff Sempelsz, a church volunteer who was setting up a booth when the man started shooting. "I didn't know what it was but I could see the rifle in his hand.
Fr Robert Milbauer, the parish's pastor, said a woman injured in the attack was the gunman's ex-wife.
The two have a child who attends the school and had been mired in an ongoing dispute, Ruiz said.
Iraq to execute al Qaeda leader in bishop murder (Reuters, 18/5/08)
Police: Man with semiautomatic rifle wounds 3 at festival outside church in California (PR Inside, 17/5/08)
Archbishop Paulus Faraj Rahho (Wikipedia)