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World News

Family holds funeral mass for presidential candidate killed in Ecuador's capital

by Reuters Journalist

Supporters of assassinated Ecuadorean presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio have gathered at a public memorial event in Quito.  Family members held a 100-person mass at a chapel at the Monte Olivo cemetery in the north of city, accompanied by heavily-armed police.

Villavicencio, a former lawmaker and crusading anti-corruption journalist, was gunned down as he left a campaign event on 9th August, less than two weeks before the election.

His death comes amid a tide of rising violence and crime in the South American country.  The murder has led some Ecuadoreans to weigh up whether they will vote at all, making the outcome of the race difficult to predict.

Villavicencio's party Construye held a large event at Quito's convention center, where his vice-presidential candidate Andrea Gonzalez spoke - while wearing a bullet-proof vest.

A telegram of condolence, sent on behalf of Pope Francis, reads:

"Having received the sad news of the assassination of Mr. Fernando Villavicencio, the Holy Father wishes to convey his deepest condolences... to the family of the deceased and to all the beloved people of Ecuador.

Furthermore, in the face of the suffering caused by unjustifiable violence, which he condemns unreservedly, his Holiness calls upon all citizens and political forces to unite in a common effort for peace."

In keeping with Catholic tradition, the Pope commended Mr Villavicencio into "eternal repose", and imparted the "apostolic blessing" to him, "as a sign of faith and hope in the risen Christ".

additional reporting by Premier News.

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