Turkish Foreign Ministry on Thursday condemned a U.S. court’s decision to release on parole an Armenian-American man responsible for the 1982 death of a Turkish diplomat in Los Angeles, Deutsche Welle Turkish reported on Thursday.
The Los Angeles County Superior Court recently ruled in favour of the release of Hampig Sassounian, who had been sentenced to life in prison for the assassination of Kemal Arıkan in 1982. The ruling was finalised after California Governor Gavin Newsom said he wouldn’t file an appeal, Deutsche Welle Turkish reported.
“We strongly condemn this approach, that deeply hurts the conscience of the Turkish nation,” a Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“This grave decision, that could not be reversed despite all attempts of the US Administration, is in conflict with the universal principles of law and the understanding of justice,” the ministry continued.
The ministry called Sassounian a “brutal murderer with political motivations”, saying his release “harms the spirit of cooperation in fight against terrorism” at a period when an uptick in hate crimes has necessitated international solidarity.
Arıkan’s killing “represents a sick and distorted ideology”, the ministry said, alluding to murders committed by the group Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) between 1975 and 1991. The ministry cited the killing of 58 Turkish citizens, including 31 diplomats, “by Armenian terrorist organizations”.
ASALA was designated a terrorist organisation by Turkey and the United States in the 1980s.
Arıkan, Turkey’s Consul General in Los Angeles, was murdered on Jan. 28, 1982, by Sassounian and his accomplice Krikor Saliba. Sassounian was arrested and sentenced to life in prison. Fugitive Saliba was claimed to have been killed in the Lebanese civil war in 1982.