Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish gunman who shot and wounded Pope John Paul II, is applying for Polish citizenship because, he says, he wants to live in the country of the late Pope, his “spiritual brother.”
Agca shot and seriously wounded Pope John Paul II at St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on May 13, 1981. The Pope met with Agca in an Italian prison two years later and forgave him for the attack.
Agca served 19 years in an Italian prison for the shooting and is presently serving a prison term in Turkey for killing a prominent journalist in Turkey in 1979. Though his motives are unclear, Agca belonged to the Grey Wolves, a Turkish extremist organization involved in political murders in the late 1970s. He is due to be released in 2010.
According to the Associated Press, Agca has addressed a petition to Poland’s Catholic president Lech Kaczynski, who has the power to grant or revoke Polish citizenship.
In his petition 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."
"I am not a stranger to your country because the national hero of Poland, Pope Karol Wojtyla, is my spiritual brother," he said, referring to Pope John Paul II by his birth name.
Agca’s lawyer, Haci Ali Ozhan, told the Associated Press that Agca wants to be transferred to a prison in Poland to serve the remainder of his sentence.
"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."
Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Piotr Paszkowski said the chances Agca would obtain citizenship are “minimal,” because he has not provided any “good service” to Poland.
"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."