By Reed Irvine and Cliff Kincaid
June 20, 2001

      In our last commentary we showed how the media in 1982 had given inadequate attention to revelations that the Bulgarian secret service, which was then a puppet of the Soviet KGB, was behind the plot to kill Pope John Paul II. That was revealed by Ali Agca, the Turk who shot the Pope. We reported that "60 Minutes II" had recently obtained new information that explains why, in 1985, Agca sabotaged the trial of three Bulgarians who were his co-conspirators. Agca, the key witness in the trial, discredited himself, terminating the trial by claiming to be Jesus Christ reincarnated.

      "60 Minutes" had obtained a copy of a long letter handwritten by Ali Agca to an Italian lawyer, Ferdinando Imposimato, who had been chief prosecutor in the case and had spent many hours talking to Ali Agca. Imposimato had kept the letter under wraps for more than three years before giving it to "60 Minutes." It claimed that the KGB was behind the plot to kill the Pope and that there was a KGB colonel who could confirm this.

      In the letter, Agca explained that was why he proclaimed himself to be Jesus Christ. He said that before the trial, a Bulgarian lawyer named Stefan Markov came to question him in prison. He said Markov told him: "Find a way to discredit the trial, or the KGB will find a way to kill you." He took the warning seriously. He decided to feign insanity, and he began to claim that he was Jesus Christ reincarnated. He made that claim at the trial, and the prosecutors saw that they had lost their key witness. They halted the trial and the three Bulgarian agents were freed and sent back to Bulgaria.

      "60 Minutes" had obtained the letter from an Italian lawyer named Ferdinando Imposimato who had investigated the attempt on the Pope’s life for nearly 20 years. He had many hours of conversations with Agca when he was imprisoned in Italy. He was convinced that the KGB was involved in the assassination attempt and that the Bulgarians were acting as their agents. He did not believe that Agca was crazy, but it was not until he got his letter some three years ago that he understood why he had feigned insanity.

      ..... "60 Minutes" found Stefan Markov in Bulgaria. He said that the KGB and the Bulgarian Special Services were not involved in the plot to kill the Pope. He claimed his questioning of Agca was monitored by the Italians. But "60 Minutes" learned that during breaks Markov could have given Agca a message in Turkish that the Italian magistrate would not have understood.

      Markov insisted that Agca had lied about the three Bulgarians who were put on trial, but Agca had shown that he knew a lot about them. He described the apartment of Sergei Antonov, the top agent, very accurately. Imposimato said he brought the two men together, and Agca confronted Antonov with so many details that Antonov could not explain that he became very angry. The "60 Minutes" segment, in explaining why Agca sabotaged the trial of the Bulgarians who directed his attack on the Pope, made an important contribution to history. A Nexis search could not find a single story reporting that contribution in the print or electronic media.

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