Agca wants to visit shrine

2010-04-16 19:18

Ankara – The Turk who tried to kill Pope John Paul II in 1981 has asked Portugal for permission to attend annual ceremonies at the Fatima shrine which will be presided over by Pope Benedict XVI, his lawyer said on Friday.

Lawyer Haci Ali Özhan said he sent a letter to Portuguese Prime Minister José Sócrates last month on Mehmet Ali Agca's wish to pray at the Fatima shrine on May 13.

The Portuguese government has yet to reply, he added.

Fatima is a town where three children are said to have seen apparitions of the Virgin Mary in 1917.

John Paul II said that it was "Our Lady of Fatima" who saved his life during the assassination attempt.

Agca was a 23-year-old far-right militant, on the run from Turkish justice, when he shot the pope in the Vatican's Saint Peter's Square on May 13 1981, leaving him seriously injured.

His motive remains a mystery.

He was released from an Ankara prison in January after spending almost three decades in Italian and Turkish prisons for the assassination attempt and crimes committed in his homeland.