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Queried on Church, Libya Bishop Says

Associated Press

The leader of Libya’s Roman Catholics, freed after 10 days of detention, said Monday that he was questioned about church activity in this Muslim country and that the U.S. air strike probably delayed his release.

Bishop Giovanni Martinelli, arrested April 10 in Benghazi with four priests and a nun, said he was released Saturday and returned to the Libyan capital the following day. The other clerics were released over the weekend.

Martinelli, 44, would not go into detail about the reasons for his arrest or elaborate on his interrogation. He would say only that the Libyans “questioned us about our presence and work as Roman Catholic priests.”

The Libyan government apologized for the arrest and said it had been a mistake, the bishop said in an interview in his office at St. Francis Church.

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Martinelli indicated Monday that Libyan authorities were suspicious of the role of the Catholic church.

“In a country where the church is made up of foreigners, this could be considered a normal procedure,” he said.


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