A 48-year-old Turkish citizen detained in Milan on suspicion of plotting a new attack on Pope John Paul II for this May is to be held by Italian police for another 48 hours while an investigation continues.
The suspect, Mustafa Savas, was picked up by police last night in the Milan suburb of Rho after an unnamed Italian, recently arrested on drug charges, told police that Savas had offered him money to shoot the pope when he visits Milan this May.
Milan magistrates today formally notified Judge Ilario Martella, the chief investigator in the May 1981 papal assassination attempt in St. Peter's Square, of the accusations against Savas, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.
But judicial sources in Milan said there was no indication yet that Savas had been involved in the 1981 shooting attack nor that he had had any contact with Mehmet Ali Agca, the 24-year-old Turk now serving a life sentence here for his role in the 1981 assassination attempt.
Since Agca's conviction in July 1981, Martella has been probing into a network of his alleged accomplices. One Bulgarian and two other Turks charged with complicity are in Italian jails, while two more Turks and two Bulgarians have also been implicated.
ANSA reported today that Milan magistrate Alberto Nobili extended Savas' detention after a three-hour interrogation in a police barracks in Milan where the Turk is being held. After another 48 hours, the magistrate must decide whether the evidence is sufficient to warrant formal charges and an arrest warrant.
The Italian news agency said that when he was arrested Savas was carrying two passports, one of which gave his birth date as 1945.
Staff members in the suburban hotel where Savas had lived told ANSA that when he first arrived about two months ago he was driving a car with a West German license plate but that more recently he was driving a Renault with Rome plates. The agency reported that Savas, who speaks Italian and was said to be well dressed, told police today that he was in Italy on business.