The Turkish gunman, who attempted to assassinate the late pope John Paul II almost 25 years ago, was released from prison today. Mehmet Ali Agca, 48 years old, was driven out of the prison to showers of red and yellow flowers from his supporters on Thursday morning at 9.30. Agca was pardoned after an Istanbul court accepted a document last week saying that his sentence was complete. He was immediately driven to a local military recruitment office, because to the Turkish military officials he still has a mandatory service to serve.
Agca's lawyer has said that they will be requesting that he be granted permission to pay a hefty sum of money or be exempted from military service all together on health grounds, as many fear for the life of Agca due to the many secrets he supposedly knows.
The Turkish shooter was pardoned by the Italian prisons and extradited to Turkey in 2000. His sentence was reduced first by 2002 amnesty under EU inspired reforms to the Turkish penal code.
Agca's motive for shooting the pope are still unclear. While attempting to assassinate the pope in St. Petersbug in 1981, Agca was wrestled to the ground by Soviet security forces and a note was found in his pocket reading: I killed the pope to protest against the imperialism of the Soviet Union and the United States, and against the genocides they are perpetrating in El Salvador and Afghanistan."