Gunman who tried to assassinate John Paul II is expelled from Italy two days after laying flowers at his grave…
- Mehmet Ali Agca laid white roses on the tomb of Pope John Paul II
- Comes 31 years to the day the Pope visited him in prison and forgave him
- He fired shots at point-blank range at the Pope in St Peter’s Square in 1981
- Vatican officials have denied his request for a meeting with Pope Francis
An assassin who tried to kill Pope John Paul II has been expelled from Italy two days after he laid white roses on the tomb of the late pontiff and requested a meeting with Pope Francis!
Mehmet Ali Agca was bundled aboard an airplane at Rome’s Fiumicino airport by security last night to be sent home to his native Turkey after an Italian judge approved the expulsion. On Saturday Agca had made a surprise visit to the Vatican to place flowers on the tomb of John Paul II 31 years to the day that the Pope visited the assassin in prison and forgave him for the attempt on his life.
Scroll down for video
Agca left John Paul critically injured when he fired several shots at close range in St Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981. The 56-year-old spent 19 years in prison for the failed assassination attempt. His motive remains a mystery. His arrival prompted questions as to how he was able to land in Austria and cross the border into Italy as he is banned from visiting either country until 2016. It is the second time Vatican officials have denied Agca’s request for a face-to-face meeting with His Holiness.
‘He has put flowers on the tomb of John Paul II. I think that is enough,’ Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told La Repubblica newspaper. Agca, once a member of a Turkish far right group known as the Grey Wolves, carried out the attack on John Paul after escaping from a Turkish prison where he was serving a life sentence for killing journalist Abdi Ipekci in 1979. During the assassination attempt, John Paul was left seriously injured, with one bullet passing through his abdomen and another narrowly missing his heart. During his 19 years imprisoned in Italy, Ali Agca converted to Christianity, and the Pope helped to pressure Italian authorities for his eventual release and deportation to Turkey in 2000. He then served an additional ten years in prison for the murder of Ipekci and other crimes. He was released from jail in 2010. When police seized Agca, they found a letter in his pocket which read: ‘I have killed the Pope so that the world may know of the thousands of victims of imperialism.’ A number of theories have been put forward about who was behind the assassination attempt.
A SECOND OF SILENCE… FOLLOWED BY CRIES OF HORROR
On May 13 1981 John Paul II was on his way to his regular weekly public audience – being driven in his white – and then unarmored popemobile, through a crowd of 20,000 worshipers. The Polish pontiff had been elected less than three years earlier. At 5.17pm, shots rang out and John Paul II slumped back in his seat after being struck by four bullets – two of which hit him in the stomach. After a second of silence, people in the square began to scream: ‘Hanno sparato il Papa! Hanno sparato il Papa!’ (They’ve shot the Pope). A minute or so later, police grabbed a man running from the scene – Mehmet Ali Agca. Following a five-hour operation, John Paul II went on to make a full recovery.
An official inquiry blamed Soviet-sponsored assassins – who wanted the Pope dead because of his support for the democracy movement Solidarity. But in 2011 Polish communist leader General Wojciech Jaruzelski, who died this year aged 90, claimed Islamic fanatics sponsored the would-be assassination. ‘Radical Islam detested the pope and saw in him a leader of crusades,’ he told Poland’s ‘Jezus’ Catholic magazine.
Source: Daily Mail