Portugal, Italy silent on pope gunman's visa demands

28th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Portuguese and Italian authorities remained silent on the demand of the failed Turkish assassin of the late pope John Paul II to visit Fatima shrine and Vatican, his lawyer said Thursday.

Mehmet Ali Agca wants to attend the papal mass at the Portuguese town of Fatima and then visit Vatican, his lawyer Haci Ali Ozhan told AFP.

"Visa applications were made to the Italian and Portugese embassies in Ankara, but so far no response has been received," Ozhan said.

"Mehmet Ali Agca wants to go to Fatima on May 13 and visit the church and then attend the Vatican pray at the tomb of John Paul II and lay flowers," Ozhan said.

The Vatican said in a letter that such a visit would be possible for Agca, but Italian authorities have not commented on the visa application, the lawyer added.

Fatima is a town in Portugal where three children are said to have seen apparitions of the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, in 1917.

John Paul II said it was Our Lady of Fatima who saved his life during Agca's assassination attempt.

Agca was a 23-year-old far-right militant, on the run from Turkish justice, when he shot the pope in the Vatican's Saint Peter's Square on May 13, 1981, leaving him seriously injured. His motive remains a mystery.

He was released from an Ankara prison in January after spending almost three decades in Italian and Turkish prisons for the assassination attempt and crimes committed in his homeland.

The 53-year-old describes himself as the second Messiah and has claimed to be writing the "true Bible".

© 2011 AFP

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