Papal Assailant Tells How He Bought Guns for Attack
Mehmet Ali Agca today calmly described how he and another Turk bought guns to shoot Pope John Paul II. It was a dramatic contrast to his first court appearance a week ago, when he shouted that he was Jesus Christ.
Agca, serving a life term for shooting the Pope, is the star prosecution witness in the trial of four other Turks and three Bulgarians accused of complicity in the attempted assassination. Defense attorneys said his outbursts during the first days of the trial had damaged his credibility.
The pontiff was shot and seriously wounded in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981.
Agca had said initially that he acted alone, but turned state’s evidence after his conviction for the shooting. He has claimed publicly that the Soviet KGB and Bulgarian secret service were behind the plot.
Agca was unemotional on the stand today. He sat cross-legged before the judge, occasionally waving his hands for emphasis.
He clutched a tiny Italian-Turkish dictionary and insisted on testifying in Italian, although his native language is Turkish.
Judge Severino Santiapichi asked him where he got the 9-millimeter Browning pistol he used to shoot John Paul. Agca also is a defendant this time, on charges of importing the gun illegally.
The 27-year-old terrorist said in clear, slow Italian that the gun and three other identical ones were purchased from two arms dealers in Vienna in March, 1981.
He said he was told that the dealers often traveled in the Soviet Union, Belgium and Bulgaria. Agca said his boyhood friend Oral Celik arranged the purchase and paid for the guns.
Celik, whose whereabouts are unknown, is charged with being a second gunman in the papal shooting.
Asked why they bought the guns, Agca replied, “Because we wanted to resume our terroristic life.”