The man who tried to kill former Pope John Paul II 33 years ago showed up at the Vatican on Saturday to put white roses on his tomb and said he wanted to meet Pope Francis.
The Turkish man who tried to assassinate Pope John Paul II 33 years ago has returned to the Vatican and put roses on his tomb.
He has put his flowers on John Paul's tomb; I think that is enough
Mehmet Ali Ağca’s surprise visit was filmed on a mobile phone by an Italian journalist.
He had been released from a Turkish jail four years ago after spending nearly three decades behind bars.
Outside, Ağca described the former pope’s survival as a “miracle”.
He was later reportedly detained by Italian police and was expected to be deported back to Turkey.
John Paul II nearly died in the attack in May 1981 in St Peter’s Square.
Ağca fired several shots at close range; one narrowly missed the pope’s heart.
The Turk once belonged to a far right group known as the Grey Wolves and has also been convicted for crimes committed in the 1970s – including armed robberies and the murder of a prominent Turkish journalist.
The attack against John Paul, who died in 2005, has remained clouded by unanswered questions over who may have been behind it. An Italian investigative parliamentary commission said in 2006 it was “beyond reasonable doubt” that it was masterminded by leaders of the former Soviet Union.
The former pope forgave Ağca and went to see him in prison in 1983.
Ağca asked to meet Pope Francis during his return to the Vatican on Saturday.
“He has put his flowers on John Paul’s tomb; I think that is enough,” Vatican spokesman father Federico Lombardi told la Repubblica.