Early parole hearing for Armenian terrorist in US denied

DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES
ISTANBUL
Published 01.08.2019 00:58

Turkey's lobbying to thwart an earlier rescheduling for a parole hearing for Armenian terrorist Hampig Sassounian in the United States has paid off. Authorities rejected a request by Sassounian for an earlier hearing.

Sassounian gunned down Turkey's Los Angeles Consul General Kemal Arıkan on Jan. 28, 1982, while the diplomat was waiting at a red light in the Westwood area of Los Angeles.

He was a member of the Justice Commandos of the Armenian Genocide (JCAG), an Armenian terrorist group that targeted Turkish diplomats in the 1970s and 1980s in revenge for what they call the genocide of Armenians during the last years of the Ottoman Empire.

The terrorist was sentenced to life following the attack and is currently incarcerated in San Quentin Prison in California. He has had a right for parole since 2007 as he served 25 years under parole laws of the state of California. The Turkish Foreign Ministry repeatedly pleaded to U.S. authorities to prevent his parole since then. The parole request was finally accepted in 2016 but Turkey appealed the ruling. California Gov. Jerry Brown canceled the parole ruling in May 2017. Sassounian applied for parole again but the parole board rejected it again in June 2018, citing that he still posed "an unreasonable danger to society if released."

He was scheduled to have his next parole hearing in June 2021 but Sassounian sought an earlier hearing. The parole board consulted with the Turkish Foreign Ministry over Sassounian's plea and the ministry responded with evidence regarding the crimes of the Armenian terrorist group. The parole board rejected Sassounian's plea after Turkey's response. Between 1973 and 1993, a total of 33 Turkish diplomats, employees and families based at Turkish diplomatic missions abroad were murdered by Armenian terrorist groups, with the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) being the most infamous one.

JCAG was affiliated with the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, a political party dating back to the early 20th century that still operates in Armenia. These militant groups, cooperating with each other and other terrorist groups despite differing in ideology, were mainly based in civil war-torn Lebanon, from where Sassounian's family emigrated to the U.S.

Armenian terrorist groups also targeted civilians in various attacks, including the 1982 Ankara Esenboğa Airport attack, which killed nine, and the 1983 Paris Orly Airport attack, which killed eight.

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