'Brides for peace' protester found dead in Turkey

Police have found the body of an Italian artist who went missing while hitchhiking in Turkey dressed in a wedding gown to appeal for peace, officials said today.

A man suspected of killing the artist, Giuseppina Pasqualino di Marineo, 33, has been detained, the governor’s office for north-western city of Gebze said.

The woman was last seen on March 31 in the mainly industrial city of Gebze, while hitchhiking to Israel in the wedding dress as part of her Brides on Tour project aiming to plead for peace in conflict areas. She disappeared after using her credit card around noon.

Police found her naked body hidden in bushes in a forested area near Gebze, after questioning the suspect late on Friday, the governor’s office said.

The artist, also known as Pippa Bacca, was hitchhiking to the Palestinian territories with a friend, who was also wearing a wedding gown.

The two left Ms di Marineo’s hometown of Milan on March 8 and hitchhiked to Turkey together. They separated in Istanbul shortly before di Marineo went missing, with the aim of reuniting in Beirut, Lebanon.

Police tracked down the suspect when he switched on Ms di Marineo’s mobile phone, having inserted his own SIM card, an Italian Embassy official said.

The Dogan and state-run Anatolia news agencies said the woman had been strangled.

The Italian Embassy official would not confirm the reports, saying a post-mortem examination was under way.

The suspect, identified only by his initials M.K., had previously been convicted for theft, Anatolia reported.

He was being questioned in police custody and no charges had been filed.

One of Ms di Marineo’s sisters, who was in Turkey to search for the artist, identified the body.

“Her travels were for an artistic performance and to give a message of peace and of trust, but not everyone deserves trust,” another sister, Maria, was quoted as saying in Milan by Italian news agency ANSA.

“We weren’t particularly worried because she had been hitchhiking for a lot of time, and thus was capable of avoiding risky situations,” she said.

“She was a determined person when it had to do with working for art.”

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