Priest, Five Others Charged With Murder of Kenya Bishop

A Kenyan priest and five other people were charged Friday with murdering a Roman Catholic bishop in a plot to control church funds, according to an Associated Press report.

Luigi Locati (search), the Italian-born bishop of the Isiolo Diocese (search), was gunned down July 14 while walking with a guard to his house in an impoverished area of central Kenya where he had worked for decades, a release said.

Court documents allege that the Rev. Guyo Wako Malley wanted to kill the 77-year-old Locati to ensure that funds coming to the diocese passed through his office rather than the bishop's.

Senior State Counsel Jacob Ondari (search) charged Malley and the others with murder. All six pleaded not guilty.

The suspects were ordered held until Sept. 7, when the court will set a trial date.

Locati, who was appointed bishop in 1995, began working as a priest in Kenya in the early 1960s.

He recently announced he was stepping down and was awaiting his replacement, but said he planned to stay in Kenya as a missionary, according to Monsignor Franco Givone, head of the Vercelli Missionary Center (search) near Locati's hometown in Italy.

Givone, who had been friends with Locati for 20 years, said the bishop had been threatened before, according to the Associated Press.

Locati was the second Roman Catholic priest killed in Kenya in less than a year.

In November 2004, assailants killed the Rev. John Hanon, 65, an Irish priest, at his house near Nairobi. Police arrested 10 suspects, but no one has been charged.