Page 1, 14th June 1991

14th June 1991
Page 1
Page 1, 14th June 1991 — Italian judges travel to Bulgaria to check out alleged connection in papal assassination bid; Turkish gunman breaks prison silence
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Locations: Milan, Rome, Sofia

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Italian judges travel to Bulgaria to check out alleged connection in papal assassination bid; Turkish gunman breaks prison silence

Agca's jail revelations on motives

by Viviane Hewitt in Rome THE revelations on the socalled Bulgarian connection with the 1981 papal assassination attempt continued in Rome this week. While Italian judges awaited Bulgaria's permission to travel to Sofia in search of the truth, there was a statement from prison by the man who tried to kill John Paul 11,

Would-be assassin, Mehmet All Agea, has denied informing the US Central Intelligence Agency in advance of a plot to kill the pontiff. But in a new series of authorised statements from his prison cell, he reiterated that Bulgarian secret agents had hired him for the May 13, 1981, St Peter's Square shooting.

Three years after the shooting, an Italian court absolved three Bulgarians, who had been working and living in Rome of complicity in the murder attempt.

News also reached Rome this week that the journalist who first published the confessions of Ali Agca's alleged "contractor" for the assassination, the Bulgarian agent Konstantin Karadzhov, had mysteriously disappeared.

Ten days ago, newspapers in Sofia and in Milan published the taped revelations of Karadzhov who claimed he had been ordered to pay All Agca three million German marks for killing the Pope (Catholic Herald, June 7).

This week, Karadzhov denied his connection with the papal murder plot. Italian legal authorities allowed All Agca to issue statements this week from his prison cell where he is serving

Leading article, page 4

life for the shooting. The 35year-old former Turkish rightwing terrorist denied Karadzhov's alleged claim on tape that the CIA had been informed and had told Agca to "shoot not to kill but to wound only" so that the United States could catch the Soviet backers of the assassination plot redhanded.

Agca did reveal, however, that he believed the Karadzhov tapes were intended to mislead the two Italian judges' newly opened third enquiry into the Bulgarian connection. He said that "reasons of state" on both the Bulgarian and Italian sides had prevented the investigation over the past ten years from arriving at the truth.

He added that the Italian court absolved the three Bulgarians he had indicated as accomplices "in exchange" for an Italian journalist who was being held at the time in a Bulgarian jail on espionage charges. The journalist was subsequently released.

Agca's comments were followed by a statement from one of the two judges conducting the new enquiry, Mario Martella, who seemed to confirm the Turkish gunman's allegations. Martella also spoke of "reasons of state" and added: "there were higher interests at stake . . . which did not allow us to proceed with our search for the truth. International détente had its price ten years ago".

Would-be papal assassin Ali Agca




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