Sassounian Committee Statement on Retrial

GLENDALE–In anticipation of the impeding re-trial of Hampig Sassounian by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office–the Hampig Sassounian Defense Committee issued the following statement–updating the public of status of the case:

"In 1982–Hampig Sassounian was arrested for the homicide of Kemal Arikan–the Turkish Consul General in Los Angeles. The trial was marred by controversy–irregularities and charges of prosecutorial misconduct which resulted in the unjust conviction of an innocent Hampig Sassounian. The Prosecution asserted that the murder was motivated by Hampig’s Armenian ethnicity–and attached a "special circumstance" of "national origin" to the crime. This resulted in a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

After numerous appeals and investigations–in October of 2000–more than sixteen years after the trial–the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals found that juror misconduct unfairly prejudiced Hampig on the issue of nationality and overturned the special circumstance finding. The ruling effectively removed the special circumstance–modifying Sassounian’s sentence to life in prison–with the possibility of parole.

On September 12–2001–Deputy District Attorney Gregory Dohi–at District Attorney Steve Cooley’s direction appeared in the Criminal Courts Building in downtown Los Angeles–marking the commencement of the retrial. Sassounian was present with prominent trial attorney Mark J. Geragos who argued to the Court that serious conflicts of interest existed in the District Attorney’s case. Geragos added–and the Judge Robert Perry agreed–that these concerns needed to be addressed before the case proceeded any further.

The Court continued the matter so that the issues raised by the defense would be addressed at the next hearing–which is open to the general public–on October 31–2001 at 8:30 a.m. in department 104 of the downtown Criminal Courts Building located on 210 West Temple Street in Los Angeles.

Members of the public who wish to attend this hearing should arrive at the courthouse early to ensure admittance.

Those wishing to assist Sassounian in his defense of this politically motivated re-trial should send their contributions to The Sassounian Defense Committee (SDC) P.O. Box 5278–Pasadena–California–91117.

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