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Moscow Court Jails Man For Killing Catholic Priest

Jesuit priest Otto Messmer
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- A Russian court has sentenced a man to 14 years in prison for murdering a Roman Catholic priest in a drunken attack.

The trial failed to establish who killed another priest in the same Moscow apartment.

The court sentenced Mikhail Orekhov for the murder of Victor Betancourt, a Jesuit priest from Ecuador, in an apartment in one of Moscow's most exclusive districts last October.

Otto Messmer, a Russian of German origin who led the country's Jesuits, was killed there two days later after returning from a foreign trip.

Reading out the sentence after the closed trial at a Moscow court, Judge Oleg Gaidar said the jury had found Orekhov guilty of murdering Betancourt but acquitted him of the other killing.

The court ruled "to sentence [Orekhov] to 14 years in a high-security prison," Gaidar said.

"The probe found that Orekhov's criminal intent to kill Betancourt emerged when he was in a state of alcoholic intoxication, on the grounds of hostile personal relations after the victim tried to seduce the Russian into engaging in sexual intercourse," the prosecutors said in a statement.

Prosecutors said last year that the door to the priests' apartment had been found open but there were no signs that property had been stolen.

The closed-door trial gave no other details to the public.