Mehmet Ali Agca, held in the shooting of Pope John Paul II, has told his Italian interrogators that he went to London last fall and planned to assassinate the "king of England," but changed his mind upon learning that the British monarch is a queen, the Italian press reported here today.
[TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE] U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim and president of the European Parliament Simone Veil, but did not have the documents to enter the United States and discovered Veil was also a woman.
"I went to London to kill the king of England, but found out the monarch was a woman and gave up the idea, because I, a Turk and Moslem, do not kill women," Agca was quoted by the Italian news agency ANSA as telling Rome prosecutor Achille Gallucci.
"For the same reason, I did not kill Simone Veil," the agency said he told the prosecutor during his interrogation yesterday morning.
But the circumstances and manner in which Agca made his statement are reported to have left his interogators highly skeptical about its veracity. It came as they began to challenge his account of his movements through Europe between the time of his escape from a Turkish jail in November 1979 and the shooting of the Pope John Paul II last Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the pontiff continued his recovery in Gemelli Hospital. Doctors said he sipped some tea for the first time and pased his first full night of sleep without taking any pills. His temperature is only slightly above normal, doctors said, but he is still being fed intravenously.
The pontiff -- who still faces a second operation in about a month to restore the normal functions of his intestines and bowels -- was examined today by two American specialists in abdominal surgery. They are the first of five foreign physicians who have been invited to examine the pope, but their possible role in treating the pontiff has not been revealed.
Agca made his statement about planning to assassinate the English monarch and other leaders after he reportedly became nervous as questioners asked about his movements during the past 18 months, ANSA reported. Other press accounts said authorities felt Agca was trying to deflect his interrogators from their line of questioning.
According to ANSA, Agca told police that he spent 10 days last fall in London and stayed at a hotel whose name he was unable to recall. But he did provide a description of the building and the price of the room, information the police believe he may have obtained from a tourist book.
Nonetheless, efforts are being made to check out his claims.
So far, there is no indication the Italians have shaken Agca's claim that he acted alone in attempting to assassinate the pontiff in St. Peter's Square. Nor have they apparently extracted from his any information about his possible links to right-wing Turkish terrorist groups.
The 23-year old Agca has reportedly become irritated with the repetitious nature of the interrogation, and has asked for it to end and for a transfer from his special cell in Rome police headquarters to a jail.