Hundreds of people say goodbye to the murdered sacristan in southern Spain

The coffin of the sacristan Diego Valencia is carried on the shoulders after the funeral officiated in the church of Nuestra Señora de La Palma, on January 27, 2023 in the Andalusian town of Algeciras, in southern Spain. afp_tickers

This content was published on January 27, 2023 – 13:32


Hundreds of people attended this Friday the funeral of the sacristan murdered on Wednesday by an individual who also injured another person with a machete in two churches in Algeciras, in southern Spain.

The church of Nuestra Señora de La Palma – in the center of which the coffin of the sacristan Diego Valencia, about 60 years old, was placed – was full, AFP journalists verified. Dozens of people also gathered outside the temple.

A few meters away, dozens of red candles and bouquets of flowers recalled the place where the victim died.

His coffin left the church in a hearse to emotional applause.

The attack, which occurred on Wednesday afternoon at two nearby churches in the center of Algeciras, a port city in the Andalusia region off the coast of Morocco, also left one person injured, a 74-year-old priest.

The priest was wounded in the neck, but was operated on and released from the hospital.

– Interrogations in Madrid –

The alleged perpetrator of the attack, Yassine Kanjaa, a 25-year-old Moroccan, was taken to Madrid on Friday, where he is being questioned by the police, a police source told AFP.

On Monday he must appear before a judge of the National Court, a high jurisdiction that opened an investigation for alleged terrorism.

According to the Spanish government, the suspect had been subjected to “an expulsion file for irregular status” since June.

Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said Thursday that the alleged attacker “has never been on the radar of any national service for radicalization” in Spain or neighboring countries.

On the possibility that the suspect had mental problems, Marlaska said that all options are on the table. It is not ruled out that the attack “could be of a terrorist nature”, but “all the hypotheses remain open”, she stressed.

In a judicial document to which AFP had access, the judge in charge of the matter considers that the attack is related to “jihadist Salafism”, and points out that, after his arrest, the suspect “on several occasions shouts ‘Allahu Akbar ‘” (Allah is the greatest).

– “Headdress” –

The suspect “a month or so ago has made a totally different change: he has grown a beard, he only wore djellaba,” Aymar, a person who refuses to give his real name and who occupies the upper part of the house, told AFP. where Yassine Kanjaa lived, near the churches attacked in Algeciras.

“Lately your mind is[aba] in another world, he spoke nonsense things […] I was a kid [joven] a bit touched on the head, a psychopath,” said Aymar, clarifying that he knew this from the people who shared a house with Kanjaa, an apartment in unsanitary conditions.

“He only talked about the devil, about God, about weird things,” he explained, adding that Kanjaa had recently stopped using hashish.

The events in Algeciras gave rise to a controversy regarding statements made by Alberto Núñez Feijóo, head of the Popular Party (PP, right) and potential future president of the government if he wins the elections at the end of the year.

“There are people who kill in the name of a god or in the name of a religion and yet (…) for many centuries you will not see a Catholic or a Christian kill in the name of their religion or their beliefs, and there are other towns that have some citizens who do,” said Feijóo.

A speech that was branded as Islamophobic by the left-wing government. “There are times when it is better to remain silent and appear responsible, than to speak like that,” tweeted the Minister of Education and socialist spokesperson, Pilar Alegría.

Hundreds of people say goodbye to the murdered sacristan in southern Spain