Bulgarian JPII shooting suspect found dead

As Mehmet Ali Agca prepares to publish a book claiming to tell the "full truth" about his attempt to kill John Paul II, a Bulgarian airline official accused of involvement in the plot has been found dead in Sofia.

Catholic World News reports that Sergei Antonov, who lived alone, had been dead for two days before his body was discovered in his home. There was no evidence of foul play, police said. Antonov was 59 years old.

Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish gunman who shot Pope John Paul on 13 May 1981, identified Antonov as one of several Bulgarians who had assisted in the assassination attempt.

At the time Antonov was working in Rome as a representative of Bulgaria's government-run airline. In 1986, an Italian court dismissed the charges against Antonov and the other alleged co-conspirators for lack of evidence.

After his release from prison in Italy, Antonov returned to Sofia, where he lived alone - reportedly suffering from declining emotional health in the years before his death.

Meanwhile, Agca is reported to have promised to tell the full truth about the assassination attempt in a forthcoming book.

A spokesman for Agca told Darik News that the Pope's would-be assassin, now serving time in a Turkish prison, has already completed a book, to be entitled The Agca Code. The spokesman offered no details about the book's contents.

In the years since his attempt on the Pope's life, Agca has offered a series of different explanations for the shooting, at times contradicting himself and often invoking elaborate conspiracy theories.

Agca was sentenced to life imprisonment by an Italian court for the attempted assassination. But he was pardoned in 2000 by Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, who was acting with the tacit support of John Paul after the pontiff had encouraged gestures of pardon for prisoners as part of the celebration of the Jubilee Year.

Upon his release from Italian prison, the Turkish gunman was handed over to authorities in his own country, to resume serving a 10-year prison term for an earlier murder conviction there.

Bulgarian implicated in papal assassination bid found dead (Catholic World News, 2/8/07)
Agca promises tell-all book about papal assassination attempt (Catholic World News, 2/8/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Mehmet Ali Agca (Wikipedia)
1982 Pope John Paul II assassination attempt (Wikipedia)
Pope John Paul II (Wikipedia)

Polish spies in John Paul II assassination attempt (CathNews, 13/10/06)
Vatican no comment on release of would be papal assassin (CathNews, 10/1/06)
Pope's would-be assassin denied release from prison (CathNews, 9/11/04)

3 Aug 2007