Sergei Antonov

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Sergei Antonov (1948 – July or August 2007) was a Bulgarian airline representative who was accused of involvement in an assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II by Mehmet Ali Ağca in 1981.[1]

Antonov, who worked as a Rome-based representative for Balkan Airlines,[1] Bulgaria's national airline, was arrested in 1981 by Italian authorities and charged with complicity after the assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II by Turkish national Mehmet Ali Ağca on May 13, 1981.[2] Pope John Paul II was seriously wounded, but survived the shooting.

Antonov was placed on trial in Italy with three Turks and two other Bulgarians for the attack against the Pope. Ağca named Antonov as his co-conspirator before his conviction for attempted murder.[2]

The case against Antonov fell apart. Italian prosecutors could not prove that the Bulgarian secret service had hired Mehmet Ali Ağca to assassinate the Pope at the behest of the Soviet Union,[2] which feared the Polish Pope's influence in then Communist Eastern Europe. Antonov was acquitted of the charges in 1986 following a two-year trial.[2] The Italian court said that there was not enough evidence to support a conviction.

Antonov returned to Bulgaria following his acquittal. He refused to speak publicly about his time in prison. His mental and physical health rapidly declined [1] and he spent rest of his life in isolation from others.[2]

Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov called for a legal exoneration of Antonov's reputation in 2000 saying that it was "important for the sake of clearing Bulgaria's image." [1]

Pope John Paul II made his first and only official visit to Bulgaria in 2002.[3] The Pope publicly rejected the allegations that Bulgaria's Communist government had been behind his 1981 attack and never believed in the Bulgarian connection.[2]

Sergei Antonov was found dead in his Sofia, Bulgaria apartment in the summer of 2007.[1] Doctors believe that he may have died of natural causes as much as two days before he was found.[2]

Some years before his death, Sergei Antonov became a prototype of the main hero of the novel Ekzekoutorat ("The Executioner") of Stefan Kisyov.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Sergei Antonov". Associated Press (Legacy.com). 2007-08-02. Retrieved 2007-08-22. [dead link]
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Sergei Antonov, 59; Bulgarian named in a 1981 plot to kill pope". Los Angeles Times. 2007-08-05. Retrieved 2007-08-22. [dead link]
  3. ^ "Healing Old Wounds". Time.com. 2002-05-19. Retrieved 2009-08-29. 

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