Italy    VOICE TOLD POPE'S WOULD-BE ASSASSIN TO DO IT
The gunman serving a life sentence for shooting Pope John Paul II in 1981 said on Monday that he almost walked away from St Peter's Square that day without pulling the trigger.
   Mehmet Ali Agca was interviewed on a talk show late Monday on RAI state TV about the Vatican's revelation two days earlier that the so-called third secret of Fatima was a prophetic vision of the assassination attempt.
   The church says the prophecy was delivered to three shepherd children when the Virgin Mary appeared to them in Fatima, Portugal, on 13 May 1917.
   Speaking from his prison in Ancona, on Italy's east coast, Agca offered the public his version of the dramatic moments during the pope's general audience before he started firing.
   "The pope had done his first swing," Agca said, referring to the pontiff's moving through the square in an open-topped white vehicle as thousands of faithful waved and cheered. "He had his back to me," said Agca, an alleged sharpshooter, contending that he refused to shoot any man who had his back to him.
   Agca said at that point he was thinking that he would walk away, "throw the gun into the Tiber" River, which flows near the Vatican and take a train to Zurich, Switzerland.
   Then "I heard this strong applause. I saw the pope in front of me, 50 meters (yards) away ....something was dragging me (back). `You must do it. You must do it,"' Agca said he recalled a voice in his head saying.
   
AP
17/5/00

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