French Satanist on Trial for Priest Murder

COLMAR, France, ( - A Satanist went on trial on Monday for the 1996 murder of a Catholic priest in the eastern town of Colmar with the local archbishop calling for mercy.

David Oberdorf, a self-avowed Satanist, is accused of stabbing Father Jean Uhl 33 times in December 1996. Oberdorf was 19 at the time of the murder. Archbishop Joseph Dore of Strasbourg, the diocese where Father Uhl's parish of Saint Adelphe in Mulhouse is located, called for mercy and said Oberdorf had changed since the murder. Oberdorf also asked Father Uhl's family for forgiveness.

"My hope is that the justice you deliver will be merciful, despite everything," Archbishop Dore told the court.

Prosecutors said Oberdorf had a pagan altar at his home and performed Satanic rituals there. According to local press reports, Oberdorf allegedly told police investigators that he was possessed by the Devil and "had a Satanic flash" before the killing.

Among the first acts by the court, the judges refused a request by Archbishop Dore to be named a civil party to the trial which would have given him access to the full file on the case. The court said Archbishop Dore had not known Father Uhl and was only appointed archbishop a year after the murder.

Archbishop ore objected to the court's decision, saying his position made him a father figure for the Catholic community and that as such he shared "its history, all its suffering, and its pain."