Stasi Ex-Chief Does not Rule out Bulgarian Role in Pope Shooting

Politics | April 11, 2005, Monday // 00:00
Stasi Ex-Chief Does not Rule out Bulgarian Role in Pope Shooting On 13 May 1981 Pope John Paul II was shot and seriously wounded by a hired would-be killer in St Peter's Square. Photo by BBC

The former chief of Germany's Stasi security services does not rule out Bulgarian involvement in the assassination attempt against the pontiff in 1981 and claims that the Turkish would-be killer Ali Agca has been trained in Bulgaria.

Talking to the Italian daily La Repubblica Marcus Wolf denied it was with the knowledge of Stasi that Bulgaria might have organized the attack.

"As far as I can remember the Bulgarians told us that Ali Agca, who pulled the trigger against the pope, was trained in one of their camps, "Wolf says, adding that back then Stasi interests were focused on NATO and Western Europe, but not the pontiff.

Marcus Wolf don't think Agca was an agent of the Soviet KGB, but nor does he believe the theory of the "lonely shooter", La Repubblica writes.

According to Wolf Stasi files do not contain evidence of being an accomplice in the crime.

Last month Italy announced plans to reopen an inquiry into the 1981 attempted murder of Pope John Paul II after Bulgaria vowed to grant it access to classified documents.

According to the reports documents found by the German government indicated that the KGB ordered Bulgarian colleagues to carry out the killing, leaving the East German service known as the Stasi to coordinate the operation and cover up the traces afterwards.

Wolf denied that Stasi had approached the ultra-right Turkish neofascist group, the Grey Wolves, whose member was Ali Agca. He however refrained from claiming the same about other East German security bodies.

At the end of last week the Italian parliamentary commission and Ferdinando Imposimato, who was in charge of the inquiry into the 1981 attempted murder of Pope John Paul II at the time approached Bulgaria for the correspondence between the Bulgarian secret services and East German service (Stasi).

Interior Minister Petkanov advised the Italians to turn directly to the German service that handles Stasi archives.

The Bulgarian minister reiterated that the Interior archives dispose of no evidence of Bulgarian connection in the assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II.

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