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Prosecutor Demands Life Sentence for Fugitive Turk

February 18, 1986

ROME (AP) _ A prosecutor on Monday demanded life imprisonment for a fugitive Turk charged in absentia with being the second gunman who tried to kill Pope John Paul II nearly five years ago.

Prosecutor Antonio Marini made the request during his fifth day of summing up the state’s case against three Turks and three Bulgarians charged with complicity in the May 13, 1981, shooting of the pope.

It was the first time he had revealed what sentences he would seek against any of the six defendants.

Two of the Bulgarians and one of the Turks, Oral Celik, have never been in Italian custody. Celik’s whereabouts have not been known since the pope was shot.

But Marini said there was sufficient evidence to convict Celik of being with convicted papal assailange Mehmet Ali Agca in St. Peter’s Square and taking part in the alleged plot. According to the indictment, Celik fired the third and last shot that wounded the pontiff and he was supposed to set off a bomb to cover their escape but failed to do so.

Agca, who is serving a life sentence for the attack, first said he acted alone but later turned state’s evidence and gave testimony that led to the complicity trial, which began in May.

The 26-year-old Celik, a boyhood friend of Agca, disappeared after the shooting.

The prosecutor said that even though investigators had not found any documentary proof of Celik’s presence in Rome, Agca and three witnesses, who gave second-hand evidence, had testified to his involvement in the attack.

In addition, he said, Celik was ″morally responsible″ because he helped Agca escape from a Turkish prison in 1979, and helped him find refuge in Bulgaria and to obtain a false passport.

Normally, the prosecutor would wait until the end of his summation to recommend verdicts and possible sentences to the jury of two judges and six civilians.

But Marini revealed the sentence he would ask for Celik while summing up the case against another Turkish defendant, Omer Bagci.

Bagci, who is in Italian custody, admitted storing the gun Agca used and said he delivered the weapon to Agca in Milan a few days before the shooting.

Marini said there was no doubt of Bagci’s guilt but he might deserve a reduced sentence because he had cooperated with investigators and may not have known what Agca intended to do with the Browning 9mm pistol.

He said the penalty Bagci faces ″could be life imprisonment, which must be imposed on Oral Celik.

″On this there can be no doubt because his (Celik’s) responsibility has emerged in a profound way during the court proceedings,″ Marini said, raising his voice to a shout.

The prosecutor continues his summation on Tuesday.

Bagci and another Turkish defendant, Musa Serdar Celebi, were the only two defendants in court.

Agca and Sergei Ivanov Antonov, the only Bulgarian defendant in custody, exercised their right not to attend.

The two other Bulgarian defendants, Todor Aivazov and Zhelyo Kolev Vassilev, are in Bulgaria claiming diplomatic immunity. They are both former employees of the Bulgarian Embassy in Rome.

A fourth Turk, Bekir Celenk, was also charged but died in Turkey after the trial began.

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