Holiday for would-be assassin

2010-01-14 14:01

Ankara - The Turkish gunman who tried to kill former pope John Paul II in 1981 will go on holiday when he is freed next week from nearly three decades in jail, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Mehmet Ali Agca, 52, also wanted to travel to the Vatican to visit the grave of John Paul II - who died in 2005 - and to meet Pope Benedict XVI, but this had not been finalised with the Vatican, lawyer Haci Ali Ozhan said.

He "will stay in a hotel in Ankara for two days and then rest in a holiday resort for two weeks" after he is released on Monday, the lawyer said in a statement.

Agca may make a statement on leaving prison but his comments to the media were likely to be limited with filmmakers and publishers negotiating to tell his story not wanting him to reveal too much, the lawyer added.

Ozhan said his client had received more than 50 book, film and documentary offers from across the world and negotiations were in the final stage.

"I can tell you that there will be a decision in one or two months after his release," the lawyer said.

Agca has been jailed in Turkey since 2000 when Italy pardoned him for the 1981 assassination attempt on John Paul II and extradited him.

He was on the run from Turkish justice and facing murder charges when he resurfaced at St Peter's Square in Rome on May 13, 1981 and shot and seriously wounded the pontiff.

The motive for his attack remain a mystery. Allegations that the Soviet Union and then-communist Bulgaria were involved have never been proven.

Agca has claimed the attack was part of a divine plan, and given contradictory statements and frequently changing his story, raising questions about his mental state.

A former member of the notorious far-right Grey Wolves, Agca was convicted in Turkey for the murder of a prominent journalist, two armed robberies and escaping from prison, all dating back to the 1970s.