Turkish man who shot Pope freed

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Mehmet Ali Agca, the man who shot and wounded Pope John Paul II in 1981, was released from a Turkish jail on Thursday after serving more than a quarter of a century behind bars. "Agca is now a free man. After 26 years Agca is now getting wet in the rain," his lawyer Mustafa Demirbag told Reuters.

But Turkish Justice Minister Cemil Cicek said he would appeal Agca's release and the 48-year-old former right-wing gangster could be jailed again for the 1979 murder of liberal newspaper editor Abdi Ipekci and charges dating from the 1970s.

"If Abdi Ipekci's murderer is looked after so well ... how can you tell your children 'murder is bad'. Law was murdered today, it has no meaning anymore," Cicek told a news conference. "We'll take this as far as the European Court of Human Rights."

Agca's motives in shooting the Pope in Rome's St. Peter's Square remain a mystery, but some believe he was a hitman for Soviet-era East European security services alarmed by the Polish-born Pontiff's fierce opposition to communism.

An Italian ex-magistrate who investigated the 1981 shooting says Agca could now be in danger as he knows too many secrets.

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