Turkey unhappy with US plans to release Hampig Sassounian

Turkey is unhappy with the plans to grant parole to Armenian Hampig Sassounian, who has spent 38 years in prison for assassination of the Turkish Consul General in 1982.

Turkey’s Los Angeles Consul General Can Oğuz said Thursday the release of the man “will set a dangerous precedent that will only embolden violent extremists.”

“It is a deplorable decision based on petty political considerations. Not appealing the Court’s order overturning the veto of Hampig Sassounian’s release is an utter and reckless disregard for the fundamental principles of the law,” Oğuz said in a statement.

He called it a “sad day for Kemal Arıkan’s family and people of Turkey.”

Hampig “Harry” Sassounian — a Lebanese immigrant of Armenian descent living in Pasadena nearly 40 years ago — was convicted for the murder of Turkish Consul General to Los Angeles Kemal Arikan in 1982. Sassounian, now 58, was initially sentenced to life in prison at his 1984 trial, but a federal court reduced it to 25 years-to-life in 2002.

After a Los Angeles County judge last month overruled Gov. Gavin Newsom’s attempt to block Sassounian’s parole, Newsom will no longer stand in the way. His office has waived any further appeals.

Sassounian has been up for parole six times. The Board of Parole denied Sassounian of early release four times (2006, 2010, 2013, 2015) before a 2017 approval. That was reversed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown.

In December 2019, the board again granted Sassounian parole. According to the hearing transcripts, Sassounian and an accomplice, identified as Krikor Saliba who is still at large, wanted revenge on a Turkish official for the Armenian Genocide.

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