Italy: man who shot Pope freed after 29 years in jail

Pope John Paul II meets Mehmet Ali Agca in 1983

Pope John Paul II meets Mehmet Ali Agca in 1983

The man who tried to kill Pope John Paul II in 1981 has been released from prison. Turkish media say he will serve in a military facility and then be taken to a hospital to be assessed for compulsory military service.

Mehmet Ali Agca, 52,  left prison after nearly 30 years behind bars where he served 19 years in an Italian prison for shooting the late Pope, and another 10 years in Turkey for the earlier murder of a newspaper editor.

Agca's motives for attempting to kill the Pope remain a mystery, although when he was arrested he said he was acting alone. He was once a member of a Turkish ultra-nationalist group. He had once claimed that he was under the orders of the Bulgarian secret service.
A trial lasting 22 months was held in Rome during the 1980s about the alleged Bulgarian connection. The accused were all acquitted for lack of proof.

In 1983, Pope John Paul who was shot as he was being driven through St Peter's Square in Rome, announced he had forgiven Agca after meeting him.

There have been long-standing questions about the mental health of Agca, based on his frequent outbursts and statements that he was a new messiah.

In a statement issued on his release yesterday,  he said: "I proclaim the end of the world. All the world will be destroyed in this century. Every human being will die in this century... I am the Christ eternal."

Source: CISA