Pope John Paul 2nd attempted assasin released
Late in the afternoon of 13 May 1981, the most charismatic pope of modern times was touring St Peter’s Square in his Popemobile before giving his weekly address.
In those days, it was an open-top vehicle offering little protection. But at the time, few thought any protection was needed.
Pope John Paul II was reaching out to the crowd, picking up small children and kissing them.
Several shots rang out. The Pope stood, looking stunned, for a moment, then collapsed into the arms of his personal secretary, blood seeping from his abdomen.
He was rushed to hospital, where, after five hours of surgery and losing three quarters of his blood, he narrowly survived.
A photograph captured the moment, a hand holding a gun seen clearly pointing out from the crowd. The would-be assassin was quickly caught at the scene. He was a young, good-looking Turkish man named Mehmet Ali Agca.
Twenty-nine years later, a now grey-haired Agca was driven away from the high-security prison outside Ankara where he has spent the past four years.
Aside from some military bureaucracy – he is still technically liable for Turkish military service – he is a free man. But his motive for shooting the Pope remains a mystery.
He had escaped from prison in Istanbul in November 1979 while on trial for the murder of a liberal newspaper editor, and was later sentenced to death in absentia.
He had wandered through several European countries before arriving in Italy three days before the shooting.
But that is where the facts run dry, and the conspiracy theories begin.
Under questioning, he, at first, said he was linked to a militant Palestinian group. Later, he blamed the Bulgarian secret service and the Soviet KGB for organising the assassination attempt.
It was a plausible enough hypothesis. Pope John Paul was an outspoken opponent of communism, and had become an inspiration to the dissident Solidarity movement in his native Poland.
This led to the prosecution of three Bulgarians and four Turkish nationals.
But Agca’s increasingly wild testimony, in which he claimed to be a reincarnation of Jesus Christ, undermined the case, and all the defendants were acquitted in 1986.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1981.
any symbology here?
who do you think was behind it and why?