Zagreb -

Croatian prosecutors on Friday charged a Catholic priest with murder for beating to death a village official in the Dubrovnik region after a row over a cemetery.

Father Ivan Sinanovic stands accused of repeatedly hitting on the head the local official who, under the influence of alcohol, last May had forced open the parish house in the tiny village of Banici and attacked him, the prosecution said.

According to local media reports, the priest and official Marko Kraljevic had been fighting over the size of the local cemetery. Sinanovic had started enlarging it without consulting the village authorities.

“I deeply regret what happened, it's the cross that I carry,” Sinanovic told a local daily recently.

“I pray less for myself than I do for the salvation of Marko's soul.”

The 43-year-old priest faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Almost 90 percent of Croatia's population of 4.2 million are Roman Catholics. - Sapa-AFP