ANKARA—Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turk who tried to kill pope John Paul II in 1981, walks free Monday after almost three decades behind bars, planning to cash in on his turbulent past with million-dollar media projects, and to get married.
He has also said he wants to travel to the Vatican to see the tomb of John Paul II, who had visited him in prison in 1983 and forgave him for the attack, and meet with his successor, Pope Benedict XVI.
Agca, 52, who will be released from a high-security prison near Ankara, "is in good health, both physically and mentally," his lawyer Haci Ali Ozhan said. "He wants to get married and will look for a fiance."
Agca has received over 50 offers from foreign publishers and movie-makers, eager to buy his story in the hope that he may finally lift the shroud of mystery still surrounding his attack on the pope, Ozhan said.
In a series of rambling letters from prison, Agca has fed suggestions he is mentally disturbed, claiming to be the second Messiah, announcing plans to write "the perfect Bible" and volunteering to go to Afghanistan to kill Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.
Others, however, believe he is a sly operator playing the fool.
Agca may say a few words to the press after his release Monday, but will not hold a press conference at the request of publishers and producers who are currently negotiating with him, Ozhan said.
He plans to stay briefly in an Ankara hotel and then go on a holiday, he added.
Agca was a 23-year-old militant of the notorious far-right Grey Wolves, on the run from Turkish justice facing murder charges, when he resurfaced in St. Peter's Square in Rome on May 13, 1981 and opened fire on the pontiff driving to an audience in an open vehicle.
John Paul II was seriously wounded in the abdomen and Agca spent the next 19 years in Italian prisons.
He has claimed the attack was part of a divine plan and given often contradictory statements, frequently changing his story and forcing investigators to open dozens of inquiries.
Charges that the Soviet Union and then-communist Bulgaria were behind the assassination attempt were never proved.
John Paul II wrote in his book "Memory and Identity" that he was convinced the assassination attempt was planned and commissioned and that Agca was a mere puppet.
In 2000, Italy pardoned Agca and extradited him to Turkey, where he was convicted for the murder of prominent journalist Abdi Ipekci, two armed robberies and escaping from prison, crimes all dating back to the 1970s.
The Turkish authorities had released Agca in January 2006 amid a legal mix-up, but re-arrested him after eight days when a court ruled that reductions to his jail term under amnesty laws and penal code amendments had been miscalculated.
In his most recent letter, released Wednesday, Agca called for a "new American Empire" promoting democracy and peace, condemned terrorism and described Al-Qaeda as "a psychopathic criminal Nazi organization."
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