Outrage has greeted plans by Pope John Paul II’s would-be assassin to sign multi-million-dollar book and film deals after his release from prison this month.
But in a handwritten letter sent to The Sunday Times, the Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca insisted this weekend that there was "great interest from Japan to Canada" in film and television documentary projects.
Almost three decades after he shot the Polish Pope in St Peter’s Square, Rome, in 1981, it remains a mystery whether he acted alone or was part of a Soviet-led plot to eliminate a threat to communist rule in eastern Europe.
Agca, 52 yesterday, is due to be released on January 18, according to Haci Ali Ozhan, his lawyer. He has been held in Turkey since 2000 when Italy pardoned and extradited him. He had been convicted of murdering Abdi Ipekci, a Turkish journalist, two years before he shot John Paul but escaped from jail.
Agca, who described himself in his letter as “sane and strong both physically and psychologically,” has reportedly sought $2 million for an exclusive television interview and $5 million for two books, including his autobiography. He has also written to Dan Brown, the author of the bestselling The Da Vinci Code, about a book entitled The Vatican Code, to be followed by a film.
“My plan is to proclaim the end of the world and to write the PERFECT GOSPEL [sic] ... I will proclaim the Perfect Christianity that Vatican [sic] has never understood,” Agca wrote in the letter to Brown. He did not say whether he would speak about the shooting of John Paul.
Arrested just after the shooting, Agca at first named three Bulgarians as his accomplices, saying he had been paid $1.2 million. But at their trial he declared himself Jesus Christ and they were acquitted.