"Deranged" man jumps in popemobile

A man described by Vatican officials as "clearly deranged" raised fears yesterday after managing to vault barriers in St Peter's Square and jumping into Pope Benedict's vehicle before being restrained by security officers.

The Age reports that the Pope was not hurt and did not even appear to notice that the man - who was between 20 or 30 years old - had jumped over the protective barricade in the square and toward the white popemobile as it drove by with the Pope waving to the audience.

At least eight security officers who were trailing the uncovered Popemobile grabbed the man, later described as a 27-year-old German, and wrestled him to the ground.

A Vatican official said the man was being held for questioning by Vatican police. He said the man got as far as the back of the Pope's white jeep before being wrestled to the ground, although video footage of the incident did not show clearly whether he actually made it onto the jeep.

The man was wearing a pink T-shirt and dark shorts, a beige baseball cap and sunglasses. He appeared to have vaulted up and over the barricade from the second or third row back.

The jeep kept moving, Benedict kept waving and then proceeded with the audience as if nothing had happened.

Fr Federico Lombardi, the pope's spokesman, said the man, who was wearing shorts, sunglasses and a baseball cap, was not armed and did not appear threatening, the International Herald Tribune adds.

"He was clearly deranged but did not want to kill or harm the pope," Fr Lombardi told reporters. "He only wanted to draw attention to himself."

The man, who was not identified, was questioned by the Vatican police and taken to a psychiatric institution for further evaluation, Fr Lombardi told reporters.

Man tries to jump into pope's popemobile (The Age, 7/6/07)
Deranged' man tries to grab hold of Pope Benedict's vehicle (International Herald Tribune, 6/6/07)

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7 Jun 2007