Suspect arrested in Cuba priest murder: Church

HAVANA Thu Jul 16, 2009 11:19pm EDT

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HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban police have detained a suspect in the murder this week of a Spanish priest, the second to be killed in the island nation in the past five months, the Catholic Church said on Thursday.

The suspect has confessed to the murder of Father Mariano Arroyo Merino, 74, whose body was found on Monday in his Havana Bay parish building, the Church said in a statement.

No details were given about the detainee or possible motive for the killing.

The Church added that, despite rumors, the crime was not related to the murder in February of Father Eduardo de la Fuente Serrano, 61, who was found dead by the side of a road west of the capital.

It said it could "firmly express its rejection of any intent to link one case to the other, or to give a religious or political shading" to the crimes.

Police said "at least one person" has been detained and confessed to the murder of de la Fuente, the Church said.

A funeral for Arroyo was scheduled for Friday in Havana's main cathedral and afterward his body was to be repatriated to Spain, news reports said.

(Reporting by Rosa Tania Valdes; Editing by Jeff Franks and Paul Simao)

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