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Turk who shot Pope John Paul II seeks Polish citizenship

Turk who shot Pope John Paul II seeks Polish citizenship

ANKARA, Turkey: The Turkish gunman who shot and wounded Pope John Paul II is applying for Polish citizenship and wants to live in the late pontiff's country of birth when released from prison, his lawyer said Friday.

Mehmet Ali Agca also wants to be transferred to a prison in Poland to serve the remainder of his term, lawyer Haci Ali Ozhan told The Associated Press.

Ozhan said he submitted Agca's application for Polish citizenship to the Polish Embassy on Thursday. The application, however, was not immediately processed because it did not include all the required paperwork, Ozhan said, adding that he would return next week.

In Warsaw, Poland, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Piotr Paszkowski said chances of him being accepted were slim.

"The condition for according Polish citizenship is residence in Poland for at least five years, prior to applying," Paszkowski said. "I think that at least from this formal point of view the chances for Ali Agca receiving Polish citizenship are minimal."

"The five-year residence period can be waved if the foreigner seeking Polish citizenship has special merits for the country, has done good service to Poland. Agca rather has not," he said.

In a petition addressed to the Polish president, Agca said: "I shall be proud of becoming a member of the noble Polish nation, if my request to be granted Polish citizenship is accepted."

The petition was made available to The Associated Press.

"I am not a stranger to your country because the national hero of Poland, Pope Karol Wojtyla, is my spiritual brother," Agca said, referring to John Paul by his other name.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski has the power to bestow or revoke Polish citizenship.

Agca shot and seriously wounded John Paul in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City, on May 13, 1981, and two years later the pope met with Agca in an Italian prison and forgave him for the shooting.

Agca served 19 years in an Italian prison for the attack. He currently is serving a prison term in Turkey for killing prominent journalist Abdi Ipekci in Turkey in 1979. Agca is due to be released in 2010. What motivated his crimes remains a mystery, but he belonged to an extreme right-wing Turkish organization the Grey Wolves, which was involved in political murders in the 1970s.

"He has chosen Poland because it is country of the pope," Ozhan said. "Because the pope forgave him and paid close attention to him, we believe that the application will be accepted."

Agca's brother, Adnan Agca, was in contact with Stanislaw Dziwisz, the archbishop of Krakow, Poland, and would also seek his help, Ozhan said. Dziwisz was John Paul's closest aide for 40 years.

John Paul II died April 2, 2005, after serving as pope for almost 27 years.


Re: Turk who shot Pope John Paul II seeks Polish citizenship

He must have a death wish. If people found out who he is there would be a lynch mob after him.