Pope Attacker Wants Asylum in Croatia, Set to Write New Bible

World | January 24, 2010, Sunday // 17:02|  views

Mehmet Ali Agca, the man who attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1981, is surrounded by journalists as he walks in a hotel after he was released from Ankara Sincan prison in Ankara, Turkey on 18 January 2010. Photo by EPA/BGNES

The Turkish man who attempted to kill Pope John Paul II in 1981 said he wants political asylum in staunchly Catholic Croatia, where he plans to write a new Bible.

"If Croatia gives me political asylum, I would be glad to come and live in Croatia," Mehmet Ali Agca said in a message delivered through his lawyers to the influential Vecernji List daily.

"Croatia is a Catholic country and I am a Catholic.

"I am preparing to write a new Bible and correct mistakes and I would like to do that in Catholic Croatia since Italy and Spain refused to grant me asylum," the 52-year-old was quoted as saying.

Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turk, who was released from prison Monday after almost three decades behind bars for trying to kill pope John Paul II in 1981, has volunteered to go to Afghanistan to kill Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and has proclaimed himself as the New Messiah.

Rambling letters from prison fed suggestions he was mentally disturbed.

Ali Agca has received more than 50 offers from foreign publishers and movie-makers, eager to buy his story in the hope that he may finally shed light on his attempt on the pope, lawyers said.

The Turk has vowed to reveal the truth about the so-called Bulgarian connection in the assassination attempt and answer all questions about the role that Soviet and Bulgarian secret services played.

On 13 May 1981 Pope John Paul II was shot and seriously wounded by Turkish gunman Ali Agca in St Peter's Square. The would-be killer never gave a motive, and mystery has continued to surround the assassination attempt. An alleged link between Agca and Bulgarian agents, and through them to the Soviet Union's KGB, fed speculations over the so-called Bulgarian connection for years on end.

Bulgarian Sergei Antonov, who was arrested after the shooting and held for more than three years in Italy, was acquitted over lack of evidence. At the time of the arrest Antonov was 32 and worked as a former manager in the Rome office of Balkan Air.

Shattered and physically damaged, he returned to Bulgaria unable to carry on a conversation or concentrate on complex tasks, symptoms his friends say came from the use of psychotropic drugs in his interrogation.

During his historic visit to Bulgaria in May 2002 the pope said he never believed in the so-called Bulgarian connection.

Sergei Antonov, the man who was wrongly accused of involvement in the 1981 assassination, died alone in his flat in Sofia in August 2007.

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Tags: Mehmet Ali Agca, Pope John Paul II, Turkish jail, release, Sergei Antonov


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