The man who shot the Pope.

  • January 9, 1958: Mehmet Ali Agca is born in the Turkish city of Yesiltepe, in the district of Malatya, near the Kurdistan border.

  • Circa 1978: He joins the far-right terrorist organization "Gray Wolves".

  • February 1, 1979: Acting on orders from the Grey Wolves, Agca kills Abdi Ipekci, the director of the liberal newspaper "Milliyet". He is caught and held in the maximum security prison of Kartel Maltepe.

  • November 25, 1979: He manages to escape from Kartel Maltepe, some say on his own, others with the help of the Grey Wolves, or by intercession of the Bulgarian Secret Services. He is sentenced to death in absentia.

  • May 13, 1981: Ali Agca is in St. Peter's Square, in Vatican, mingling with the multiethnic crowd that Pope John Paul II always manages to draw. A famous photograph shows a hand with a gun rising above the heads of the cheering pilgrims. A single bullet hits the Pope in the abdomen, seriously wounding him but missing vital organs. Later the Pope said that the hand of the Holy Virgin shielded him. Agca apparently endorses this, saying that his aim was true.

  • July 22,1981: The trial against Agca ends; he is sentenced to life in prison. The judges didn't believe the theory of the lone gunman, saying that he was the hired hitman of an unknown organization. Conspiracy theorists hints at Soviet Secret Services who convinced their Bulgarian counterparts to get rid of this troublesome Polish Pope.

    Agca perfectly fits the description of a half crazed religious fanatic, since he alternates his rants about the Secret Services of USSR, Bulgaria, Turkey and USA with messianic revelations that he is the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. He also claims that the keeper of the Third Secret of Fatima is the Italian Prime Minister Bettino Craxi, and that he is about to disclose the secret to the world. Craxi, in an unusual display of humor, confirms that this is indeed the case. John Paul II visits Agca several times while he is in jail, forgives him and intercedes on his behalf to lessen the sentence.

  • May 25, 1989: Since Agca is a model prisoner, the judges shorten by 720 days the usual 26-years period that must be spent in jail before getting in front of the parole board. The sentence is shortened two more times in the next few years, by a total of 585 days. Meanwhile the death sentence that awaits Ali Agca in Turkey is for some reason converted in 10 years of prison time. Agca starts seeking Presidential pardon.

  • June 13, 2000: The Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi grants the pardon; the next day Agca is extradited to Turkey. Rumors of an amnesty seem to indicate that he might be released soon.

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