Turkish PM condemns murder of Italian artist

Activist went missing while hitchhiking in Turkey dressed in a wedding gown to appeal for Middle East peace.

Erdogan 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Erdogan 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Turkey's prime minister on Sunday strongly condemned the murder of an Italian artist and activist who went missing while hitchhiking in Turkey dressed in a wedding gown to appeal for peace. Police found the body of Giuseppina Pasqualino di Marineo, 33, and a court charged a man suspected of killing the artist with murder Saturday. The woman was last seen on March 31 in the industrial city of Gebze while hitchhiking to Israel in the wedding dress as part of her "Brides on Tour" project aimed at pleading for peace in conflict areas. "I can't find the right word to describe this violent murder," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. "We have been deeply saddened with the killing of such a peace envoy." Erdogan expressed his condolences to the victim's family and the entire Italian nation. "Justice will make the best decision," Erdogan said. Several Turkish newspapers also condemned the murder. "Our grief is great," daily Milliyet headlined in Italian with letters printed in the colors of the Italian flag against a black background. Police found her naked body hidden in bushes in a forested area near Gebze, northwest Turkey, after questioning the suspect late Friday, the governor's office said. The artist, also known as Pippa Bacca, was hitchhiking to the Palestinian territories with a friend, who was also wearing a wedding gown. "Forgive us Pippa," headlined Turkish daily Sabah on Sunday. "We are ashamed," according to daily Yeni Safak. The two friends left di Marineo's hometown of Milan on March 8 and hitchhiked to Turkey together. They separated in Istanbul shortly before di Marineo went missing, with the aim of reuniting in Beirut, Lebanon. Police tracked down the suspect when he switched on di Marineo's mobile phone, having inserted his own SIM card, an Italian Embassy official said. The official asked not to be named because he was not authorized to give information on the police investigation. The Italian Embassy official would not confirm reports di Marineo was strangled, saying an autopsy was under way. Anatolia said the suspect was 38 and that he had previously been convicted of theft. One of di Marineo's sisters, who was in Turkey to search for the artist, identified the body.