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Pope’s attacker freed: ‘I am Christ’

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ANKARA–The Turkish man who shot Pope John Paul II nearly 29 years ago emerged from prison and declared himself a messenger from God, then spent his first night of freedom in a luxury hotel room.

Mehmet Ali Agca, 52, said Monday he would talk to the media in the next few days.

But it seemed doubtful that his comments would clear up uncertainty over whether he acted alone or had the backing of communist agents, as he once claimed. He has issued contradictory statements over the years and there are questions about his mental health.

Following his release, Agca, his hair now grey, waved to journalists and sat calmly between two policemen in the back of a sedan that took him to a military hospital. There, doctors concluded he was unfit for compulsory military service because of “severe anti-social personality disorder,” said his lawyer, Yilmaz Abosoglu.

Upon his arrival later at the five-star Sheraton hotel, he addressed reporters in English. He had traded the blue sweatshirt he wore when he left jail for a suit and tie.

“I will meet you in the next three days,” he said. “In the name of God Almighty, I proclaim the end of the world in this century. All the world will be destroyed, every human being will die. I am not God, I am not son of God, I am Christ eternal.”

Agca delivered a similar message in a rambling statement distributed by Abosoglu outside the prison on the outskirts of Ankara.

Agca, who has said he wants to travel to the Vatican, does not have a passport. One of his lawyers once said that Agca had converted to Christianity while in jail. The motive for the attack on the pope remains unclear but it has not been linked to Islamic issues.

When Agca was arrested, minutes after the May 13, 1981, attack, he said he acted alone. Later, he suggested Bulgaria and the Soviet Union were behind the attack, but backed away from that assertion. His conflicting statements have frustrated prosecutors for decades.

Torstar Syndication Services

© 2010 Torstar Syndication Services. Displayed by permission. All rights reserved.

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