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  January 23, 2006VOL. 44, NO. 2Oakland, CA

articles list

Pope John Paul II’s gunman released from Turkish prison

Iraq’s women debate impact of Islamic law on their rights

East Bay charities see need for long-term care
for impoverished, struggling Katrina evacuees

Former addict finds healing, God through art

‘At risk’ schools are bouncing back to health

St. Mary’s College students. . . .
Shock, hard work, determination mark relief efforts in New Orleans

Faith-formation programs graduate another 40 in pastoral ministry

Three honored with diocesan Mother Seton Award

St. Elizabeth High mural enhances Fruitvale neighborhood

Priest brings myriad of skills to Fremont parish

Supreme Court sides with state’s
right to legalize assisted suicide

Carol Corrigan joins California Supreme Court

EWTN to celebrate its 25th anniversary in S.F. Jan. 28, 29

Church in New York to appeal ruling requiring birth control coverage


•Crossing the line at Fort Benning: A move out of faithlessness

•The Christian experience in the song power of the spirituals


•Margaret Mealey


























Pope John Paul II’s gunman
released from Turkish prison

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Mehmet Ali Agca, the gunman who shot John Paul II in St. Peter’s square in 1981, was freed from a Turkish prison on Jan. 12, completing decades of jail time for the assassination attempt and the 1979 murder of a Turkish journalist that continues to stir controversy.

Agca, a Turk, did not make a statement as he left the prison under heavy police escort. He was immediately taken to a military base to enlist for military service, which he dodged as a young man.

Agca’s release has stirred fresh controversy among Turkish officials and observers critical of the reduced prison sentence he received for committing the 1979 murder of Abdi Ipekci, the liberal editor-in-chief of Turkey’s Milliyet daily newspaper.

Turkey’s Justice Minister Cemil Cicek called for further judicial review of the court ruling that drastically reduced Agca’s prison sentence to under six years and led to his early release.

“As the justice minister, I will ask the appeals court to examine the release of Agca,” Cicek told a news conference in Istanbul.

Agca was extradited to Turkey in 2000 after serving nearly 20 years in jail for repeatedly shooting John Paul as he rode through St. Peter’s Square in an open-air jeep.

Upon his arrival in Turkey, Agca was initially sentenced to serve 10 years in prison for the Ipekci slaying.

In November 2004, a Turkish court re-sentenced Agca to life in prison, a 36-year term. But the ruling also applied changes in Turkey’s penal code, which qualified Agca to reduce his sentence by 19 years for the time he served in Italian custody. An additional 10 years were cut from his sentence as part of a national amnesty passed in 2000.

Agca has been linked to the Gray Wolves, an ultra-nationalist group that clashed with leftist groups during the 1970s violence that roiled Turkey. He allegedly killed Ipekci for writing editorials that criticized rightist groups.

Agca’s release has also renewed questions regarding his motives for attempting to assassinate John Paul.

Agca has given contradictory testimony, telling La Repubblica in March 2005 that “nobody in the world” knew of the assassination attempt while also claiming that the attack was part of a Vatican conspiracy.

The Vatican released a statement saying the Holy See “submits to the decisions of the tribunals involved in this matter.”

Mehmet Ali Agca arrives at a military recruitment center under police escort shortly after he was freed from a prison in Istanbul, Jan. 12. The Turkish army wanted to claim Agca, 48, for missed military service, a legal obligation for Turkish men. He was later declared unfit for military service.


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