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Supporters of jailed priest pray for his release. Supporters of jailed priest pray for his release.

Parishioners believe priest innocent of murder; victims’s brother says he was tortured

Autopsy found indications of torture and death by asphyxiation

Parishioners of the Mexico City church whose priest was arrested on homicide charges this week prayed yesterday for his release, while the brother of the victim revealed that his sibling was tortured before he was murdered.

A congregation of the Cristo Salvador church gathered to pray for Francisco Javier Bautista Ávalos, who was arrested in connection with the June 11 murder of Leonardo Avendaño, a 29-year-old deacon at the same church.

“Holy Father, you know the priest as we know him, help us to move hearts . . . listen to us so that the father is protected wherever he is, so that he soon leaves that place,” said a woman leading the prayers.

The parishioners, who also prayed for Avendaño, called for authorities to carry out an exhaustive investigation into the crime because they believe the priest is innocent.

Earlier yesterday, supporters of the priest protested outside the Mexico City Attorney General’s Office to demand his release.

Leonardo Avendaño was last seen with the priest from his church.
Leonardo Avendaño was last seen with the priest from his church.

More than 6,000 people have signed an online petition directed to Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum that expresses support for Bautista, who led the funeral service for his alleged victim, and expressed hope that the murderer would be caught.

Meanwhile, Josué Vicente Avendaño told the newspaper El Universal that his brother was beaten and tortured before he was killed.

He rejected a version of events that suggested that his brother was accidentally strangled to death during a sex game.

“My brother was tortured, [his injuries] weren’t from a game or anything like that. It was something that was planned in advance, my brother was tortured and then after that, the cause [of death] was asphyxiation . . .” Avendaño said.

He said that his brother’s body was badly bruised, his nose was broken, his face swollen and some of his teeth were missing.

“In the autopsy [report], ‘blows and severe bruising’ appeared, there’s another term that I don’t remember but in the autopsy it said that he was tortured,” Avendaño said.

He also said that Bautista was someone who his brother trusted completely, and that the priest had called him when Avendaño was missing. During the conversation, the victim’s brother said he detected the tone of a “worried person” in Bautista’s voice.

“At the moment I suspect everyone. . . Who could it be? I don’t have the authority to say yes [it was the priest] or who might be guilty, I’ll leave that to justice. . .”

Source: Milenio (sp), El Universal (sp) 

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