Official Blog of Author MICHAEL THOMAS BARRY.
A blog which discusses varied topics that are related to the authors many books. Michael is a columnist for CrimeMagazine.com and a reviewer for the New York Journal of Books.
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Monday, May 12, 2014
Pope John Paul II was Shot - 1981
What happened during this week in crime history: May 12 –
Body of Lindbergh baby was found (1932); May 13 – Pope John Paul II was shot
(1981); May 15 – Second Vigilante Committee was formed in San Francisco (1856);
May 16 – Voltaire was imprisoned at the Bastille (1717); May 17 – Police raid
the hideout of the Symbionese Liberation Army in Los Angeles and kill six
Highlighted crime of the week – On May 13, 1981, Pope
John Paul II is shot and wounded at St. Peter's Square in Rome, Italy. Turkish
terrorist Mehmet Ali Agca, an escaped fugitive already convicted of a previous
murder, fired several shots at the religious leader, two of which wounded
nearby tourists. Agca was immediately captured. He claimed to have Palestinian
connections, although the PLO quickly denied any involvement. Detectives
believed that his confession had been coached in order to throw investigators
off track. When his trial began on July 20, 1981, Agca maintained that Italy
did not have the right to prosecute him since the crime occurred at the
Vatican. He threatened to go on a hunger strike if his trial wasn't shifted to
a Vatican court, but his request was denied and he was found guilty two days
later. He was sentenced to life in prison but released in 2010.
Many people argued that the very unusual short trial must
have been an effort to cover up evidence of a conspiracy. In fact, Italian
authorities had their own suspicions but did not want to disclose them in a
highly publicized trial. Instead, they conducted a relatively quiet
investigation into the connection between Agca and Bulgaria's KGB-connected
intelligence agency. The motive behind an alleged Soviet-inspired assassination
must be viewed in the context of the Cold War in 1981. Pope John Paul II was
Polish-born and openly supportive of the democratic movement in that country.
His visit to Poland in 1979 worried the Kremlin, which saw its hold on Eastern
Europe in danger. Although the exact extent of the conspiracy remains unknown
today, Agca allegedly met with Bulgarian spies in Rome about assassinating Lech
Walesa, the Polish labor union leader. However, this plan was abandoned when
Agca was offered $1.25 million to kill the pope.
Thomas Barry is the author of numerous books that include the award
winning, Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California,
1849-1949 (2012, Schiffer Publishing). The WINNER of the 2012
International Book Awards and a FINALIST in the 2012 Indie Excellence Book
Awards for True Crime. Visit the author’ website for more information: www.michaelthomasbarry.com
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