Pope John Paul II (L) forgave Mehmet Ali Agca and met him in prison in 1983. Reuters photo
The man responsible for an assassination attempted on the late Pope John Paul II has stated in a television interview that 'the Vatican government' had ordered the hit.
Mehmet Ali Agca, recently released after spending 30 years behind bars, stated on Turkish national television that, "The Vatican government decided on the Pope's assassination."
"They planned and organized it. The order to shoot the Pope was given by Vatican Secretary Cardinal Agostino Casaroli," he said.
Agca was arrested in 1981 after he shot the Pope in St. Peter's Square. At the time, he claimed that he had acted alone; later, however, Agca testified that he was paid by the Bulgarian secret service.
To date, however, the motive behind the attempt remains unknown.
After his release from prison in January 2010, he announced his intention to write a book, sparking widespread outrage.
One of the prosecutors during Agca's trial, Ferdinando Imposimato, stated that Agca "knows everything about the intelligence services behind the shooting," adding that, "It's horrifying and ridiculous that people could offer him money [for his memoirs]."
"It's offensive to Pope John Paul and it could jeopardize what chances are left of finding out the truth. He could be tempted to say outrageous, untrue things just to get more money," Imposimato added.
The Pope later forgave and met with Agca in prison, telling his followers to, "Pray for the brother who shot me, whom I have sincerely forgiven."