Ankara | Turkey has “firmly” condemned the decision taken by the American authorities to soon release the killer of its consul in Los Angeles, in favor of a conditional release measure.
“We strongly condemn this decision which deeply hurts the conscience of the Turkish nation,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement released Thursday evening.
This “serious decision (…) harms the spirit of cooperation against terrorism”, also estimated the ministry.
Hampig Sassounian, now 58, was convicted in 1984 for opening fire on Turkish diplomat Kemal Arikan when he was stopped at a traffic light while driving his car on January 28, 1982.
Mr. Sassounian, an Armenian immigrant living in the suburbs of Los Angeles, was initially sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, but a federal appeals court had overturned the judgment.
He had repeatedly applied for parole, so far unsuccessfully.
A judge in a Los Angeles court recently granted it and the governor of California, who had previously opposed the measure, said last week that he had decided not to appeal.
In a statement released Thursday, the US Department of Foreign Affairs expressed “its deep disappointment” regarding the forthcoming release of Mr. Sassounian.
“Attacking a diplomat is not only a serious crime against a particular individual, it is also an attack on diplomacy itself,” said the State Department, which also recalled that the United States advocates the application of the “maximum penalty” provided for by law in the event of the assassination of a diplomat, “without conditional or early release”.
This case comes as Ankara seeks to repair its relations with Washington, which have been greatly strained since 2016.