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Turkey condemns California’s release of diplomat killer

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Turkey on Friday strongly condemned California Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision not to try to halt the planned release of an Armenian man jailed for the 1982 murder of the Turkish consul in Los Angeles, Agence France-Presse reported.

Hampig Sassounian, an Armenian immigrant who was living in the suburbs of Los Angeles, was jailed in 1984 for opening fire on consul Kemal Arıkan when after he had stopped at a traffic light on January 28, 1982.

In 2002, Sassounian signed a declaration renouncing terrorism and was sentenced to life in prison, and to serve a minimum of 25 years.

His application for parole had been repeatedly denied until a Los Angeles judge granted it last month.

A spokeswoman for Newsom, who had previously opposed Sassounian’s release, said Thursday he had decided not to challenge the ruling.

“We strongly condemn this approach, that deeply hurts the conscience of the Turkish nation,” the Turkish foreign ministry said in reference to Newsom’s decision.

“This grave decision, that could not be reversed despite all attempts of the US administration, is in conflict with the universal principles of law and the understanding of justice.

The US State Department issued a statement Thursday saying it was “deeply disappointed” about the forthcoming release.

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