ROME -- Chaldean Catholic leaders in Iraq have criticized a death sentence for the man convicted of killing Chaldean Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mosul, Iraq.
"Violence must not call for more violence. We are in favor of justice but not of capital punishment," Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk, Iraq, told the Rome-based missionary news agency AsiaNews.
The Iraqi government announced May 18 that an Iraqi criminal court had sentenced Ahmed Ali Ahmed to death for killing Archbishop Rahho. The date of the execution had not yet been made public.
An Iraqi government spokesman said Ahmed was an al-Qaida leader who was involved in a number of "terror crimes against the people of Iraq."
Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Warduni of Baghdad told the Italian Catholic agency SIR May 19 that Archbishop Rahho "would not have accepted such a sentence. Christian principles uphold that a death sentence is not permissible against anyone."
The Catholic Church in Iraq seeks "peace, security and reconciliation," he added.
Archbishop Rahho, 65, was kidnapped Feb. 29 in an attack that left his driver and two bodyguards dead. The archbishop's body was recovered March 13 after the kidnappers told Catholic leaders in Iraq where he had been buried.
An autopsy was inconclusive about whether he had been killed or had died because of medical complications since he suffered from a heart condition and needed medication.
Bishop Warduni said security and conditions have improved slightly in Iraq, including Mosul, where "people are saying it's going a bit better."
"Our hope is that this continues as time goes on and that al-Qaida is defeated," he said.