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Turkish Court to Free Gunman Who Shot Pope John Paul in 1981


A Turkish court has ordered the man who shot and seriously wounded Pope John Paul II in 1981 freed from prison.

Turkey's Anatolia News Agency reported Sunday that Mehmet Ali Agca will be released later this week. Anatolia says Agca will likely be drafted into the army to carry out the obligatory military service he avoided in the 1970s.

Agca shot Pope John Paul in an assassination attempt in St. Peter's Square in May 1981. Italy sentenced him to life in prison. But John Paul visited Agca in his cell in 1983 and forgave his would-be assassin.

Italy pardoned Agca in 2000 at the Pope's request. He was then extradited to Turkey to serve his jail sentence for the murder of leftist newspaper columnist Abdi Ipekci.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP, and Reuters.

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