Pope gunman to face medical after release

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ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The gunman who wounded Pope John Paul II will be forcibly taken to a military facility to assess his fitness for military service when he is released after nearly 30 years in prison, his lawyer said Sunday.

Mehmet Ali Agca, 52, is due to be released from a prison near Ankara on Monday. A military hospital in 2006 had ruled he was not fit for the obligatory military service due to a “severe anti-social personality disorder” but authorities said that report has never been approved and is not valid, lawyer Haci Ali Ozhan said.

Ozhan on Sunday did not comment on details of that report but there are long-standing questions about Agca’s mental health based on his frequent outbursts and claims that he was the Messiah.

Agca has said that he will answer questions about the attack after he is released from prison.

Little is known about what led Agca to shoot at the pope while he was greeting the faithful in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981, but he has said that foreign powers had conspired to have the Polish-born pontiff killed.

When Agca was arrested minutes after the attack, he declared he had acted alone. Later, he suggested Bulgaria and the Soviet Union’s KGB were behind the attack, but then backed off that line. His contradictory statements have frustrated prosecutors over the decades.

Ozhan on Sunday expressed concern about Agca’s security. He said he had formally objected to the decision to take Agca to a military facility and possibly to a military hospital for medical examinations, arguing the 2006 report was valid.

“Agca is shocked and disappointed that he might be enrolled for military service,” Ozhan said. “He says it is against his religious and philosophical beliefs to bear arms. There will also be difficulties in protecting Mehmet Ali Agca’s life where thousands of people carry weapons.”

The pope met and forgave Agca in 1983 while the gunman was serving a 19-year sentence in an Italian prison. On Monday, Agca ends another 10-year prison sentence for killing a Turkish journalist in 1979.


Associated Press Writer Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara contributed to this report.