Turk who tried to kill pope John Paul released from jail
Mehmet Ali Agca, the man who shot and seriously wounded Pope John Paul II in 1981, was released from a Turkish prison on Thursday.Here are some key facts about the 48-year-old Turkish would-be assassin:
* Agca shot and nearly killed Pope John Paul II on May 13, 1981 in Rome's St. Peter's Square. He was arrested on the spot and a court gave him a life sentence.
* Agca was pardoned at the Pope's request in 2000 after 19 years in an Italian jail. He was then extradited to Turkey to serve a separate sentence for robbery and murder.
* Agca gave conflicting reasons for his attempt on the Pope's life, including charges of a conspiracy by Bulgaria's communist-era secret services and the Soviet KGB. At a 1986 trial, prosecutors failed to prove a Bulgarian conspiracy.
* At the trial, Agca also claimed to be a reincarnation of Jesus and that the shooting was the fulfilment of a prophesy the Virgin Mary told children at Fatima, Portugal in 1917.
* In 2000, the Vatican revealed the "Third Secret of Fatima" which foretold of the assassination bid. Pope John Paul II believed the statue of the Madonna at Fatima saved his life.
* The Pope publicly forgave Agca four days after the shooting and again when he visited his attacker in prison in 1983. Agca says he became a Christian after the visit.
* Agca belonged to a right-wing militant faction in Turkey in the late 1970s and was sentenced to prison for the murder of a liberal newspaper editor in 1979. He escaped a military jail with suspected help from sympathisers in the Turkish security apparatus. Turkish authorities have always denied any connection with Agca and have dismissed him as mentally unstable. (Reuters)
BROTHER OF AGCA: 'WE ARE HAPY'
Many Turkish and foreign journalists covered the release of Mehmet Ali Agca from prison on Thursday.
Responding to questions of journalists, Adnan Agca, the brother of Agca said that we are happy. We endlessly thank the Turkish state and the Turkish nation.
The rapid deployment force barricaded in front of Kartal prison early Thursday morning and took tight security measures around the prison.
Agca was released from the prison escorted by police and immediately taken in handcuffs to a military recruitment office (for his military service.) Agca was later taken to a military infirmary in Tuzla district. After the medical examination there, Agca will be
released. Yet Agca has to go to and report to police station twice a
Agca (48) who killed journalist Abdi Ipekci in 1979 and shot and wounded Pope John Paul II in 1981 was released after serving five and a half years in Istanbul. Agca also served 19 years in an Italian prison for the assassination attempt before being pardoned at the Pope's behest in 2000. He was then extradited to Turkey to serve a
separate sentence in Kartal prison for robbery and murder.