ROME -- Two guards and the warden at a prison where Mehmet Ali Agca was held denied Thursday that the Turkish terrorist was coached there to implicate Bulgaria and the Soviet Union in the 1981 attack on Pope John Paul II.
They testified for the first time in the 6-month-old trial of four Turks and three Bulgarians accused of plotting the May 13, 1981, assassination attempt on the pontiff.
Warden Cosimo Giordano, chief warder Franco Guarracino and the guard at the main gate of the Ascoli Piceno penitentiary, Domenico Di Sabato, told the Rome Court of Assises Agca had no unauthorized visitors who might have coached him on the notion of the 'Bulgarian connection.'
Last week a mobster turned informer, Giovanni Pandico, said a senior officer of the SISMI secret services, Gen. Pietro Musumeci, and a shadowy Italian businessman being held in New York, Francesco Pazienza, visited Agca at the northern Italian jail.
Agca, the state's star witness in the trial, at first maintained he acted alone in the St. Peter's Square shooting. But he turned state's evidence subsequently and said he was assisted by Bulgarian agents and hired by a diplomat from the Soviet Embassy in Sofia.
Guarracino, who is serving a six-year jail sentence for collaborating with jailed Neapolitan crime boss Raffaele Cutolo's New Organized Camorra gang, said, 'Pandico has always slandered me and continues to do so.'
Pandico said Agca met with Musumeci in Giordano's office and Guarracino also helped persuade the Turk to collaborate with the SISMI agents.
Pazienza and Musumeci have denied visiting Agca. In an interview with the Naples newspaper Il Mattino, Pazienza also was quoted Wednesday as saying he believed there was no Bulgarian involvement in the papal shooting.