Judge Orders DA to Provide Witness List

LOS ANGELES–During a hearing Friday on the Sassounian special circumstance retrial case–presiding judge Robert Perry ordered the prosecution to provide a list of witnesses by April 3 that could back the "national origin" claim–on which the district attorney is opting to build its case.

The prosecution proposed to introduce experts who will attempt to prove that the crime for which Hampig Sassounian is serving a life sentence was prompted by the national origin of the victim.

Sassounian is serving a life sentence for the alleged murder of Turkey’s Consul General to Los Angeles Kemal Arikan in 1981.

In 2000–the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Sassounian’s special circumstance–citing irregularities with the prosecution’s case at the time of the trial. This ruling provided Sassounian with the opportunity to seek parole.

In September 2001–however–Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley opted to retry the special circumstance portion of the case–awakening a 20-year-old case–a move that experts and critics are saying was motivated by the Sept. 11 attacks on the US.

Sassounian attorney Mark Geragos told Asbarez Friday that judge Perry has given Deputy District Attorney Gregory Dohi until April 3 to file his list of "junk science" witnesses as they are called. Geragos will have an opportunity to file his own motion based on the prosecution’s list by April 22.

Judge Perry set a May 10 hearing date–at which time he will determine whether the witnesses on the DA’s list will be called or not.

"The community needs to come together with me to address the proposed testimony," said Geragos called on the community to become more actively involved in the case.

On February 22–the Sassounian Defense Committee organized a successful fund-raising event–during which more than $70,000 was raised for the defense efforts.

The committee–which has been working diligently since the onset of the case–commended the community for its continuous assistance and urged the community come together and ensure that this case will yield the desired outcome for Sassounian.


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