The Turkish Republic appeared at the Parole Hearing represented by Consul General R. Gulru Gezer, and with Gunay Evinch of ATAA and the firm of Saltzman & Evinch.
California Parole Board denies Parole to JCAG Terrorist “Harry” Sassounian.
On February 5, 2015, the California Department of Corrections Parole Board denied Hampig Sassounian release on parole, because he continues to pose a public safety risk due to his violent extremism in advocating the Armenian allegation of genocide. This was Sassounian’s fourth parole denial in ten years.
Sassounian, San Quentin Inmate C88440, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment for the assassination of Los Angeles Turkish Consul General Kemal Arikan on January 28, 1982, as Mr. Arikan was in his car waiting at a traffic signal. Sassounian and crime partner, Krikor Saliba, shot Mr. Arikan 14 times in the chest and head. The Justice Commandos of the Armenian Genocide (JCAG), the militant wing of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), an ultra nationalist Armenian political party, claimed responsibility. Saliba fled to Lebanon, while Sassounian was arrested hours after the assassination. After a two-month trial prosecuted by District Attorney Lael Rubin, a jury convicted Sassounian and committed him to prison on June 29, 1984. Sassounian is incarcerated at San Quentin Prison, which is a maximum security facility where notable assassins have been inmates: Sirhan Sirhan who assassinated Robert F. Kennedy and Jang In-hwan who assassinated American diplomat Durham Stevens.
On February 5, 2015, the Parole Board set the next parole eligibility hearing for 2018, concluding that Sassounian has not come to terms with his crime. The Commissioners observed that while Sassounian claims to support peace and nonviolence: (1) he has expressed militancy in Armenian publications such as the Armenian military magazine, Hay Zinyor; (2) he has done nothing in the public forum to denounce his heinous crime or show remorse, let alone correct reports in Armenian publications that refer to him as a “Hero of Holy War”; (3) he has continued to deny any connection to the JCAG and ARF and to conceal his sources of criminal support; (4) he has continued to conceal a third co-conspirator; and, (5) he has not offered to pay reparations to the Turkish Republic and the Arikan family.
The Parole Board expressed that there was nothing Sassounian can do to bring back Mr. Arikan, and that he took away a husband and a father forever, just because he wanted to silence Mr. Arikan for disagreeing with the Orthodox Armenian perspective of history. “This was an assassination; a crime against a public officer is a crime against the public“, concluded the Parole Board.
LOS ANGELES PROSECUTOR PAYS TRIBUTE TO ARIKAN WIDOW
The Turkish Republic appeared at the Parole Hearing represented by Consul General R. Gulru Gezer, and with Gunay Evinch of ATAA and the firm of Saltzman & Evinch. Los Angeles District Attorney Tom Wenke appeared on behalf of the State of California. Importantly, top Turkish American, Turkish and US leaders submitted letters in opposition to parole:
1. ATAA Past-President and California Resident Ergun Kirlikovali (PDF)
2. Retired Los Angels District Attorney Lael Rubin
3. U.S. Congressional Turkish Caucus Member Pete Sessions (PDF)
4. U.S. Congressional Turkish Caucus Co-Chairman Ed Whitfield (PDF)
5. Turkish Ambassador to the United States Serdar Kilic, including correspondence from Secretary John Kerry and Attorney General Eric Holder.
SASSOUNIAN POSES PUBLIC SAFETY RISK
“Sassounian lacks genuine remorse for his crime. In the Armenian military’s Hay Zinvormagazine, Sassounian wrote: ‘I am the soldier of the Motherland until death; my Armenian blood taught me this.’ His lengthy diatribe in Hay Zinvor, Sassounian shows how he sees the killing of Mr. Arikan and his incarceration as a part of a larger mission to give a message that the use of violence is justified and that after his release from prison he will continue to use violence, and that this is all about justice for himself and the Armenian Cause, not justice for the family of Mr. Arikan. Sassounian concludes, “The way for justice is long, and I will pass it with self-sacrificing, devotion, patience.”