Nytt

Drapet, for ikke å si henrettelsen, av Fader Francis Van der Lugt i Homs sist mandag, var en hevn for at han hadde forhandlet frem evakueringer fra Gamlebyen uten at opprørerne hadde fått det avgjørende ord.

Dessuten skal en opprørskommandant som hadde holdt en beskyttende hånd over ham, ha blitt drept av en bilbombe som eksploderte før den var utplassert.

Flasketuten peker på al-Nusra-fronten.

Dagen etter at to bilbomber eksploderte og drepte 28, kom en maskert mann til klosteret og krevde å få snakke med fader Francis. Han sa han kom for å overbringe en beskjed fra kommandanten, den samme som var drept dagen i forveien. Han ville ha med seg pateren, som imidlertid nektet. Da ba mannen ham sette seg på en stol, og skjøt ham to ganger i hodet.

Det er den særdeles dyktige Times-korrespondenten Hala Jaber som skriver dette. Hun har snakket med en gresk-ortodoks prest, Maxim Jamal, som har bodd i Homs, og kjente fader Francis godt. Han ble evakuert sammen med 50.000 andre kristne.

Han snakket med fader Francis rett før han ble drept og pateren kunne fortelle at opprørerne hadde jult ham opp. Dette skjedde en uke før han ble drept.

A week before he was shot dead, Van der Lugt, 75, was badly beaten by rebels who are losing ground in this battered city in the face of a Syrian army onslaught.

Den syriske regjering har tilbudt opprørere som legger ned våpnene amnesti. Dette gjelder imidlertid bare syriske borgere. Mange har godtatt tilbudet. Men dermed blir utenlandske jihadister igjen og de er mer uforsonlige og hatefulle mot kristne.

The killing came amid growing disputes among insurgents blockaded in the old city, between those who want to accept an amnesty from the government in exchange for laying down their arms, and those who are determined to
fight on.

Jamal said one theory was that the killing was a punishment by some hardline rebels after Van der Lugt had arranged for an elderly Christian woman, 21 Syrian rebel youths and a blind Sunni man to leave the area.

“They were angry with him for arranging the evacuation without their permission, and he was [attacked] as retribution,” he said.

Fader Francis skal også ha blitt mishandlet for noen måneder siden. Også den gang av opprørere.

Jamal also said that Van der Lugt said he had been beaten a few months ago, when he was left tied to his bed for hours. “It was a case of humiliating him and telling him ‘you are at our mercy’,” Jamal said.

Despite these clues that his life was at risk, the priest insisted on remaining in the city where he tended to his flock for more than 50 years.

Jamal said when he last spoke to Van der Lugt he had asked him: “Don’t you want to leave, isn’t it time to leave?” The priest replied: “As long as there are Christians remaining here, I won’t go.”

Et annet motiv for å drepe fader Francis kan ha vært grådighet. Innbyggere som flyktet eller ble evakuert overlot verdisakene til ham til oppbevaring. Ingen av partene i konflikten er til å stole på. Det vil ikke være første gang at jihadistene dreper for vinnings skyld.

Jamal said that as well as protecting the civilians, Van der Lugt was also looking after valuables handed to him for safekeeping by Christians and others who had fled.

“Many Christians and some Muslims were afraid to take their gold, money and the deeds to their homes, with them. A lot of people, fearful they may be robbed by either side when fleeing, left these with Father Francis for safekeeping.”

More than 450,000 Christians have fled the civil war and between 1,000 and 1,200 have been killed, according to Christian groups.

In a letter in January last year Van der Lugt wrote about the war: “Most Syrians do not support the opposition. Therefore, you cannot say that this is a popular uprising.”

http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/world_news/Middle_East/article1399327.ece