15 January 2007
Hampig Sasunian, currently serving a life sentence for the murder of Turkish Consul Kemal Arikan in Los Angeles in 1982, admitted to this past week to the amnesty board to which he had applied for a lighter sentence "My partner and I had been planning to murder Turkish diplomats in Europe." . .
Sasunian's request was overturned by the board, but had it not been, Turkey would have requested Sasunian's extradition from the US anyway.
Speaking to the Hurriyet, David Saltzman, who has been representing the Turkish side of the case since 1993, said "We will request Sasunian's extradition at the time we see most fit. He is not a US citizen, but in fact a Lebanese citizen. There is an agreement between Turkey and the US on extradition of criminals. If Sasunian is freed here, he will be sent immediately to Turkey."
Sasunian had ties to two radical Armenian groups
Sasunian, who has ties to the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, which Saltzman noted was the "armed wing" of the Armenian Genocide Justice Commandos, put the amnesty board into a "deep silence" when he made the admission that he and a partner had been planning on carrying their killing spree to Turkish diplomats living in Europe. Asserted Salzman "Sasunian told of many things he had never said before, but there is still a lot he is hiding."
Well-known Armenian lawyer Geragos defending Sasunian
The current Turkish Consul to Los Angeles, Engin Ansay, watched the proceedings with Sasunian on the condition that he remain silent. Sasunian's lawyer is the well-known Mark Geragos, who told the amnesty board from the very start "I too am an Armenian." He added "The Turks cut open the bellies of pregnant Armenian women with their bayonets."
The murder of Turkish Consul Kemal Arikan in 1982 took place as Arikan was on his way to work in a private vehicle. The gunfire which sprayed Arikan from both sides in his car killed him immediately. Kirkor Saliba, who carried out the murder with Sasunian, was later killed himself in Lebanon. No one knows who killed Saliba.
Said lawyer Saltzman, "The case of Hampig Sasunian is important, because it represents a period when Turkish diplomats were being massacred. We have been going after them step by step for years now. Sasunian is the only murderer left over from that period."
15th Jan 2007
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