Suspected Salvation Army killer escapes custody in Pakistan

By Ecumenical News International
October 5, 2007

Nearly a week after the murder of the Salvation Army chief in Pakistan at its headquarters was reported, his body continued to remain in a government mortuary awaiting transportation to his homeland Norway - reports Anto Akkara.

Norwegian Bo Brekke, who was aged 50 when he was killed, took over as the territorial head of the Salvation Army church in Pakistan a year ago. He was found dead in a pool of blood from gun shots on 27 September at the Salvation Army campus in Lahore, which is watched over by 12 guards.

"The legal formalities are not yet over. It is delaying the process of sending his body home," Colonel Yousaf Gulam, who has taken over as chief secretary of the Salvation Army in Pakistan, told Ecumenical News International on 2 October after meeting police officials.

Though Gulam declined to speculate on the motive or culprits behind the killing, investigator Tassaduq Hussain said the denomination's chief was murdered due to a dispute over property or financial embezzlement.

Police had said the suspected killer was another Salvation Army worker who held an administrative position in the Lahore office, and he had been arrested in Pakistan, but had escaped from custody over the weekend.

After arresting the suspect, police said he had been censured by Brekke over financial embezzlement. Police said the Salvation Army officials and guards heard two gunshots just after Brekke left his office. Church leaders said they were confused by the reports of the escape.

"We were shocked by this murder right at our door step," said Victor Azariah, general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Pakistan, which includes the Salvation Army among its four member churches.

[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches.]

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