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Early release likely for would-be papal assassin

Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish gunman who shot Pope John Paul II in 1981, may be released early from a Turkish prison after a court set a precedent.

The country's top appeals court ordered the early release of the relative of a legislator from the ruling Justice and Development Party who had been sentenced to life imprisonment for killing 12 people.

The verdict may open the way for Agca, who is serving separate jail sentences for the murder of a newspaper editor and robbing a soda factory, to apply for a similar early release.

Agca was extradited to Turkey from Italy in 2000 after serving 19 years in prison for shooting the Pope in St Peter's Square in 1981. Agca, who had been a member of an extreme nationalist group in Turkey, has given contradictory statements about why he tried to kill the Pope and who assisted him.

Turkish Gunman Who Shot Pope May Be Freed Early, Vatan Reports (Bloomberg 23/2/04)

John Paul II Urges "Schools of Faith" at University Level (Zenit 22/2/04)
Papal Ministry Is to Confirm Unity of Church, Says John Paul II (Zenit 22/2/04)
Pope Reflects on Lent as Time of Conversion (Zenit 22/2/04)
Man who shot pope pardoned in Italy (CNN 13/6/00)
Mehmet Ali Agca (The 80s Server)

24 Feb 2004