Thursday, March 02, 2006

USSR wanted JPII dead

Italian Panel: Soviets Behind Pope Attack
Mar 02 11:28 AM US/Eastern


By VICTOR L. SIMPSON
Associated Press Writer


ROME

An Italian parliamentary commission concluded "beyond any reasonable doubt" that the Soviet Union was behind the 1981 attempt to kill Pope John Paul II - a theory long alleged but never proved, according to a draft report made available Thursday.

The commission held that the pope was a danger to the Soviet bloc because of his support for the Solidarity labor movement in his native Poland. Solidarity was the first free trade union in communist eastern Europe.

"This commission believes, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the leaders of the Soviet Union took the initiative to eliminate the pope Karol Wojtyla," said a draft of the commission's report obtained by The Associated Press. Wojtyla was John Paul's Polish name.

The draft has no bearing on any judicial investigations, which have long been closed. If the commission approves the report in its final form, that would mark the first time an official body had blamed the Soviet Union for shooting John Paul.

The report also said a photograph shows that a Bulgarian man acquitted of involvement in the May 13, 1981, assassination attempt was in St. Peter's Square when the pontiff was shot by Mehmet Ali Agca.

The Bulgarian secret service allegedly was working for Soviet military intelligence, but the Italian court held that the evidence was insufficient to convict the Bulgarians in the plot.

Agca, a Turk, has changed his story often and investigators said it was never clear who he was working for. He initially blamed the Soviets.

Agca served 19 years in an Italian prison for shooting the pope and then 5 1/2 years in Turkey for murdering journalist Abdi Ipekci.