Italian Court Officials In Netherlands To Question Turk
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) _ The Italian judge and prosecutor in the pope plot trial arrived in the Netherlands on Thursday to seek information from a Turk arrested in Amsterdam with a pistol during Pope John Paul II’s May visit.
Judge Severino Santiapichi, prosecutor Antonio Marini, and several associates arrived at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, and then boarded a domestic flight for the southern city of Maastricht, where they will interrogate Samet Aslan.
Santiapichi confirmed that the officials’ visit to the Netherlands was an attempt to unearth new evidence bearing on the trial of four Turks and three Bulgarians charged with complicity in the 1981 attempt to assassinate the pope.
Marini said Italian officials believe the gun found in Aslan’s possession came from the same lot as the gun Mehmet Ali Agca used to shoot the pope on May 13, 1981.
Agca, the star witness in the trial, received a life term for his shooting and wounding the pope.
″It’s a very important thing to interrogate Aslan,″ Marini told The Associated Press.
The Italian officials were scheduled to question Aslan for two days in the presence of a Dutch magistrate, and then go on to West Germany to interrogate Yalcin Ozbey, also a Turk, who is imprisoned there on a drug charge.
Ozbey has stated in an affidavit that he knew all about the alleged plot to kill the pope, and that there were four Turks in St. Peter’s Square at the time of the attack there.
The Dutch Justice Ministry said it considered Aslan’s interrogation at the Maastricht House of Detention private, and would not disclose its contents.
Aslan was arrested on a train entering the Netherlands from West Germany last May 14, the last full day of the pope’s Dutch visit.
Police said he was found to be carrying false identity papers and a .9mm Browning automatic pistol.
A Dutch Justice Ministry official said initially that the pistol was one of a lot of 21 Browning pistols from which came the gun Agca used to shoot the pope.
However, testimony in Aslan’s June 12 trial disclosed no such link between the two pistols, and Aslan was sentenced to a three-month prison term for violation of the Dutch gun law.
Thursday’s visit was Marini’s second to the Netherlands on the Aslan case. On June 10, he met with Dutch Justice Ministry officials to discuss Aslan. He was refused immediate permission to question him but was advised to make a formal request.