Turkey Recoils at Release of Man Who Shot Pope Many Turks are confused by the early release of the man who shot Pope John Paul II in 1981. Mehmet Ali Agca was also convicted of the 1979 murder of a liberal newspaper editor in Turkey.
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Turkey Recoils at Release of Man Who Shot Pope

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Turkey Recoils at Release of Man Who Shot Pope

Turkey Recoils at Release of Man Who Shot Pope

Turkey Recoils at Release of Man Who Shot Pope

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/5164596/5164597" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Mehmet Ali Agca is released from a military office in Istanbul, Jan. 12, 2006. Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images

Mehmet Ali Agca is released from a military office in Istanbul, Jan. 12, 2006.

Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images

Many Turks are confused by the early release of the man who shot Pope John Paul II in 1981. Mehmet Ali Agca was also convicted of the 1979 murder of a liberal newspaper editor in Turkey.

Last week's release was condemned by the Turkish media, which argued Agca had only served 5 years in prison for crimes committed in Turkey before his attack on the pope. Agca was convicted of killing newspaper editor Abdi Ipekci in 1979. Agca's mysterious escape from prison several months after his conviction fueled suspicion of a larger conspiracy involving politicized elements of the Turkish security services.

The fugitive fled Turkey, and spent two years traveling throughout the Middle East and Europe before he shot and wounded the pope in St. Peter's square. Agca was caught and spent 19 years in an Italian prison before his extradition to Turkey, where he was to have served a life sentence for the Ipekci murder.

Court: Man Who Shot Pope Should Return to Jail

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - Police on Friday took the man who shot Pope John Paul II back into custody after an appeals court ordered him to return to prison to serve more time for killing a journalist and for other crimes in Turkey.

Mehmet Ali Agca did not resist and was being taken to police headquarters in Istanbul, eight days after he was released from prison, said Gov. Muammer Guler.

Agca served 19 years in prison in Italy for shooting the pope on May 13, 1981, and 5 1/2 years of a 10-year sentence in Turkey for the murder of journalist Abdi Ipekci in 1979.

In a decision that outraged many Turks, a local court had ordered his release on Jan. 12, counting his time served in Italy.

But the appeals court overturned the decision, saying there "is no legal basis" for deducting Agca's time served in Italy from his sentence in Turkey.

It was up to the local court to decide how many more years Agca, 48, would have to serve. Reports suggested he could be imprisoned until 2014.

"We're respectful of all decisions by Turkish courts," Agca's lawyer, Mustafa Demirbag, told private NTV television earlier Friday.

Responding to public criticism over Agca's release, Justice Minister Cemil Cicek had asked the appeals court this week to annul it, arguing that he should serve a full 10-year sentence from June 14, 2000, when he was extradited to Turkey for killing Ipekci.

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