01/16/2010, 00.00
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A free Ali Agca, television star and a disgrace for Turkey

by Geries Othman
The man who attempted to assassinate John Paul II will be freed on 18 January. Promises, revelations, films, exclusive interviews, memoirs. He has also written to Benedict XVI and is masquerading as the new messiah. But for the Turkish people he is a disgrace, a symbol of a dark period in the nation.

Ankara (AsiaNews) - The name of Mehmet Ali Agca has rebounded in global media for days: on 18 January, the 52 year old Turk, ex Gray Wolf, the man who May 13, 1981 shot Pope John Paul II will be free again.  

In media and international public opinion Agca's name is associated with the attack on the Pope: for Turks, Agca is a symbol of the most dramatic period in the country’s recent history.  

In Turkey, Mehmet Ali is known as "the nation’s greatest disgrace ", as co-author in 1979 of a political crime – the murder of Milliyet newspaper director, Abdi Ipekci - that bloodied the country's political life and created the conditions for the coup of 1980. In the criminal history of Agca we meet a number of names that represented the point of contact between the extreme right, mafia groups, state apparatuses, among them the protagonists of darkest events of the time. Among these, there is Abdullah Catli, leader of the Gray Wolves in Ankara, accused in 1978 of being responsible for the murder of Prof. Bedrettin Comert, an excellent teacher of philosophy. The same year Catli was accused of being the instigator and organizer of the death of seven young militants of the TIP (Turkish Workers' Party), strangled in a house in Ankara.

These days even Catli is in vogue in the Turkish newspapers: his brother Zeki reveals that was Abdullah obtained a false passport for Mehmet Ali which enabled him, once he had escaped from a Turkish maximum security prison, 25 November 1979, to enter Italy.  

An enigmatic militant of a right-wing terrorist organization, Agca in fact has not yet explained the reasons for the attack on the pope; still today he tends to limit himself to sensationalistic “outbursts”.  

In the eighties Ali Agca gave rise to the so-called Bulgarian track to explain the attack on the pope; while during his visionary deliriums he has claimed to be the reincarnation of Jesus.  Now, although he claims to have recovered his senses and to be “physically and psychologically healthy and strong" he also says he is ready to proclaim great revelations of the “true gospel" which he has yet to write and in which he will declare the Perfect Christianity which the Vatican has never understood.

In his many mystic delusions he has said he wants to be baptized, to marry an Italian Christian, to live in Rome, to visit and kiss the grave of the pope, who forgave him.  

In a press conference, his lawyers showed a letter he wrote to Pope Ratzinger in which he declares his desire for a meeting during which he would make stunning revelations about the disappearance in 1983 of 15 year-old Emanuela Orlandi from the Vatican fifteen.  

He has also promised the upcoming release of his next book-confession, "a moving account of his life" from the pen of the journalist Saygi Ozturk that reveals all the untold secrets of his past: how he escaped from prison in 1979; how he entered Italy, who commissioned the murder of the director of Milliyet and the assassination attempt on the pope. But already the title is emblematic: "Taseron Mesih (Subcontractor of Christ)".

While Agca aims to play the role of the star enchanting the public with his improbable secrets, the on Turkish television channels, indignant comments of journalists, politicians and lawyers follow each statement. The people themselves are questioning how the murderer of journalist Abdi Ipekci can walk free, like a mystic hero, after less than 30 in prison.  

In fact, in 1982, the Turkey’s National Security Council recognized his responsibility in the assassination of the journalist and sentenced him to death. But in 2002 the death penalty was abolished in Turkey and his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. A subsequent amnesty, the result of the mysterious Turkish judicial mechanisms, reduced the penalty to only ten years' imprisonment.  

In January 2006, Agca was released from prison for good behaviour. Shortly afterwards, on appeal by the Minister of Justice and as a result of the indignant reactions of the population, the Supreme Court, decided on his return to prison.

Even today, the angry public reaction to the release of the murderer is a symptom that the character Agca while arousing curiosity, does not provoke sympathy and has few friends at home. Ironically, on Star Television, journalist Nevin Bilgin said that Agca is apparently looking for a nation of refuge and has applied for citizenship to some 20 states, but all denied it to him. "I could go and live in the Far East, America and even in Africa" Ali Agca has said. The fact is that his brother Adnan, the only family that in all these years has visited him in jail, prefers not to say anything about the future of Ali: "Where he will go and what he will do is for him to decide and we will accept it without question."  

His two lawyers Özhan and Abosoglu clarify that after his release he will stop in Ankara for a few days and then decide what to do.

In reality Agca still has to do military service, but there are many who think that Turkey will be only too happy to exempt him from military service, for security reasons and for the disruption that would arise from having one of the most dangerous terrorists in a State military barracks.  

His lawyers ensure that he is no longer a dangerous type. But many people think that justice has not been done, nor the murky past of the Turkish nation clarified.  

A free Mehmet Ali Agca will continue to be a loose cannon, of unpredictable outbursts, a murderer, an uncomfortable failed assassin, and media personality. He knows this only too well and is taking advantage of this for films and exclusive interviews with billion dollar contracts. If, of course, he tells the truth.



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