updated 12/29/2008 3:57:14 PM ET 2008-12-29T20:57:14

A Turkish court has convicted a youth of stabbing a Catholic priest last year and sentenced him to 4 1/2 years in prison.

The court in the Aegean port city of Izmir on Monday found 19-year-old Ramazan Bay guilty of stabbing and wounding Adriano Franchini in December 2007.

The attack on the Italian priest was one of a string of hate attacks against Christians in Turkey in 2006 and 2007.

Christians make up less than 1 percent of Turkey's population of around 70 million.

In 2006, a 16-year-old boy fatally shot a Catholic priest as he prayed in his church, following the publication in European newspapers of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

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