Light Rain56° WeatherLight Rain56° Weather

Pope gunman released from Turkish prison

Mehmet Ali Agca, who shot Pope John-Paul II in Rome in 1981, was released from prison Monday in Turkey. Agca says that he is a messenger from God and that the world will be destroyed.

Associated Press

Mehmet Ali Agca, who shot Pope John-Paul II in Rome in 1981, was released from prison Monday in Turkey. Agca says that he is a messenger from God and that the world will be destroyed.

ANKARA, Turkey — The Turkish man who shot Pope John Paul II nearly 29 years ago emerged from prison Monday, declared himself a messenger from God, then spent his first night of freedom in a luxury hotel room.

Mehmet Ali Agca, 52, said he would talk to the media in the next few days.

But it seemed doubtful that his comments would clear up uncertainty over whether he acted alone or had the backing of communist agents, as he once claimed. He has issued contradictory statements over the years and there are questions about his mental health. The motive for the attack on the pope remains unclear.

Agca shot John Paul on May 13, 1981, as the pope rode in an open car in St. Peter's Square. The pontiff was hit in the abdomen, left hand and right arm.

In 1983, John Paul met with Agca in Italy's Rebibbia prison and forgave him.

After his release, Agca waved to journalists and sat calmly between two plainclothes police officers in the back of a sedan that took him to a military hospital. There, doctors concluded he was unfit for compulsory military service because of "severe antisocial personality disorder," said his attorney, Yilmaz Abosoglu.

Upon his arrival later at the five-star Sheraton hotel, he addressed reporters in English. He had traded the blue sweat shirt he wore when he left jail for a dark blue suit and tie.

"I will meet you in the next three days," Agca said. "In the name of God Almighty, I proclaim the end of the world in this century. All the world will be destroyed, every human being will die. I am not God, I am not son of God, I am Christ eternal."

Agca, who has previously claimed to be the Messiah, said the Gospel was full of mistakes and he would write the perfect one.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said there were no plans to comment.

Agca was released after completing his sentence for killing journalist Abdi Ipekci in 1979. He had received a life sentence, which amounts to 36 years under Turkish law, for murdering Ipekci, but he escaped from a Turkish prison less than six months into the sentence and shot the pope in Rome two years later.

After his extradition to Turkey on June 14, 2000, Agca was separately sentenced to seven years and four months for two robberies in Turkey in 1979. But authorities deducted the prison sentence he had served in Italy, and several amnesties and amendments of the penal code further reduced his term. The situation complicated the calculation of his remaining term and led to his wrongful release from prison in 2006. He was reimprisoned eight days later.

Pope gunman released from Turkish prison 01/18/10 [Last modified: Monday, January 18, 2010 11:07pm]

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...