California Gov. Gavin Newsom has denied the parole request of Hampig Sassounian, an Armenian who assassinated a Turkish diplomat in Los Angeles in 1982.
The announcement came Monday with Newsom reversing the Board of Parole Hearings' decision which found Sassounian suitable for parole.
"After reviewing and considering the evidence in the record, I believe that Mr. Sassounian must do additional work before he can be safely released. Accordingly, I find that he still poses an unreasonable danger to society if released and I reverse the Board's decision to parole Mr. Sassounian," the governor concluded.
On Jan. 28, 1982, Kemal Arıkan was shot to death 14 times by Sassounian and his accomplice, Krikor Saliba. Saliba escaped justice, but Sassounian was arrested and in 1984 was sentenced to life in prison.
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 has repeatedly pleaded with 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."
The Turkish American National Steering Committee (TASC) and the American Turkish Association of Southern California (ATASC) on Tuesday welcomed the governor's decision to reject Sassounian's parole.
The TASC and ATASC thanked Newsom and said they are leading a national and international coalition to make sure Sassounian serves his life sentence.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Wednesday also welcomed the decision saying: "This murder that terrorist Sassounian committed, with no signs of regret during his conviction, will never be forgotten as a crime that reveals the terrible dimensions of a sickly and distorted ideology. This welcomed decision shows once again that terrorism, hate speech and extremism will not go unpunished in the world. On this occasion, we once again commemorate Kemal Arıkan, our martyred diplomat and all our martyrs of terror with respect and mercy.”
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.
The 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.
The vast majority of the attacks were conducted by the ASALA and JCAG terror organizations.
The assassinations took place in the U.S., Austria, France, Italy, Spain, Lebanon, Greece, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, Portugal, Iran and the U.K.
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