Shock over Italian peace-bride murder in Turkey
Turkish leaders condemned this weekend the murder of an Italian 'bride for peace' artist who was raped and strangled while hitchhiking through the country in a case which has shocked and dismayed both Turkey and Italy.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul expressed his condolences for the killing of Giuseppina Pasqualino, 33, in a message sent to the Italian embassy in Ankara.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey was ''deeply saddened'' and that he could not ''find the right words to describe this violent murder''.
Pasqualino, who also went by the name Pippa Bacca, went missing on March 31 while hitchhiking across Turkey dressed in a white wedding gown in a bid to promote peace.
Her naked body was found hidden in bushes in woodland area near Gebze in northwest Turkey on Friday.
Initial autopsy results showed she had been raped and murdered within hours of her disappearance.
A 38-year-old Turkish man was charged with her murder on Saturday.
The suspect, who was tracked down by police after he inserted his SIM card into Bacca's stolen mobile phone, has confessed to raping and then strangling his victim with a shoe lace.
Police were led to the site of Bacca's body by the suspect, the Turkish press reported.
Bacca, who was the niece of Italy's iconic conceptual artist Piero Manzoni, left her hometown of Milan on March 8 with friend and fellow artist Silvia Moro, both dressed in long, white, flowing wedding dresses.
The two planned to hitchhike their way to Jerusalem as part of their so-called 'Brides on Tour' project aimed at promoting peace in the countries they travelled through.
Bacca and Moro separated when they got to Istanbul with the intention of meeting up again in Lebanon.
On March 31, Bacca hitched a lift on the outskirts of Istanbul with the driver of a black van and was never seen alive again.
The man detained by police is a jobless father-of-two who has a previous record for theft.
Bacca's murder has dominated the Turkish news, with local newspapers expressing horror and shame at her fate.
''Forgive us Pippa,'' headlined Turkish daily Sabah on Sunday.
The daily Hurriyet carried a front-page editorial entitled ''We Should Be Ashamed'', while the newspaper Milliyet carried the headline ''In Turkey, Brides are Killed''.
NOT EVERYONE DESERVES TRUST, SISTER SAYS.
In a video clip of Bacca taken at the outset of her journey, the artist told the camera: ''This trip wants to prove that if one has faith in others then one receives only goodness in return''.
Bacca's sister Maria Pasqualino told Italian reporters that her sister had intended to hitchhike across a total of 11 countries carrying her message of ''peace, hope and faith''.
She said Bacca had wanted women that she met along the way to sew pieces of embroidery and peace tokens onto her wedding gown.
''We weren't particularly worried because she would always hitchhike and so knew how to avoid risky situations,'' she said.
''This was an artistic performance aimed at peace but not everyone deserves to be trusted,'' she said tearfully.
Bacca's mother Elena Manzoni said that ''we weren't worried about Giuseppina's hitchhiking her way along. We're all hitchhikers in my family - it's the nicest way to travel.
''The Turkish are very good people normally. The person who gave her a lift was a maniac who intended killing her... It could have happened anywhere,'' she said.