ANCA Outraged over Reduced Charges in Turkish Embassy Attack Plea Agreement

Prosecutors Agree to Drop Multiple Bias and Hate Crimes Charges; Sentencing Set for March 15

WASHINGTON—Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Executive Director Aram Hamparian, a witness to the May 16  attacks on peaceful protesters in Washington D.C., sharply criticized a plea agreement to drop multiple hate and bias charges against two of the assailants in return for a guilty plea and one year of imprisonment.

A scene from the May 16 attack on peaceful protesters in Washington D.C. Eyup Yildirim can be seen kicking a protester. (Photo: VOA Turkish service)

“A proposed one-year sentence for a brutal, unapologetic foreign-government-directed assault against Americans on U.S. soil is an absolute travesty,” said Hamparian. “The [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan-ordered attack wasn’t just a violent hate crime against Americans but an open assault on American values. This sentence, if approved by the court, will effectively serve as a green light to Erdoğan and other foreign dictators intent on exporting their violence to American shores.”

Hamparian and representatives of the Armenian Legal Center for Justice and Human Rights (ALC) were on hand at District of Columbia Superior Court when the plea deal was registered for Eyup Yildirim and Sinan Narin, two of the 19 perpetrators indicted for the brutal beatings, which included 15 members of Turkish President Erdogan’s security detail, and two Canadians, who have reportedly since repatriated to Turkey. All 19 defendants were indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit a crime of violence, with a bias crime enhancement—charges of hate crimes—which carry a maximum 15 years prison sentence. The plea deal would remove the hate-crimes component of the charges, which have been reduced to one charge of assault.

The final sentencing, to be issued by D.C. Superior Court Judge Marisa Demeo, is set for March 15, 2018, at 10 a.m.

Hamparian was videotaping live at the scene of the May 16 attack, which took place in front of the Turkish Ambassador’s residence, where President Erdoğan was scheduled to have a closed-door meeting with think tank leaders. Hamparian’s video showed pro-Erdoğan forces crossing a police line and beating peaceful protesters—elderly men and several women—who were on the ground bleeding during most of the attack.

Hamparian testified before a May 25 Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearing on this matter. Joining him at the hearing were Ms. Lusik Usoyan, Founder and President of the Ezidi Relief Fund; Mr. Murat Yusa, a local businessman and protest organizer; and Ms. Ruth Wedgwood, Edward B. Burling Professor of International Law and Diplomacy at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Usoyan and Yusa were victims of the brutal assault on May 16 by Erdoğan’s bodyguards.

On June 6, with a vote of 397 to 0, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously condemned Turkey in response to the attacks, taking a powerful stand against Ankara’s attempts to export its violence and intolerance to America’s shores. H.Res.354, spearheaded by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.), Ranking Democrat Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), has received the public backing of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). On July 14, the U.S. House also unanimously adopted an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Bill, championed by Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman David Trott (R-Mich.), raising objections to a proposed U.S. sale of handguns for use by the very Erdoğan security detail involved in the May 16th attack.

On July 19th, senior members of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Ted Poe (R-Tex.), Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission Co-Chairman Jim McGovern (D-MA), and Representatives Jim Costa (D-Calif.) and John Sarbanes (D-Md.) condemned Turkish President Erdoğan’s violent actions—both in Turkey and the U.S.—during “A Stand for Free Speech” held at the site of the May 16 attacks. The press conference and rally were organized by the ANCA in coordination with the Sheridan Circle May 16 Initiative (including many victims of the beatings), and a host of Kurdish, Armenian, Greek, Assyrian, and Christian groups, including the American Kurdish Association (AKA), In Defense of Christians, American Hellenic Council, Armenian Legal Center for Justice and Human Rights, A Demand for Action, Hellenic American Leadership Council, AHEPA, and the Armenian Youth Federation.

The May 16 protest in front of the Turkish Ambassador’s residence was a continuation of a demonstration held earlier in the day in front of the White House, co-hosted by the ANCA, as President Trump met with President Erdoğan. Human rights and religious rights groups were joined by representatives of the Kurdish, Yezidi, and Armenian communities to call attention to the Erdoğan regime’s escalating repression against the free press and Kurdish and other ethnic communities, as well as Turkey’s ongoing obstruction of justice for the Armenian Genocide.

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19 Comments

  1. The proposed 1 year sentence for a plea deal in a beatdown case is not out of the normal range, even though the facts giving rise to the incident are.

    The injured parties need asap to sue the perps civilly for actual and punitive damages, and depose them, and get their records to see what kind of coordination the Turkish government and its operatives may have exercised here. I am guessing that one of the perps will prefer to answer a few questions honestly instead of losing his house.

    • Thank you. What about all the lawmakers who inundate us with pleas for votes when they need the votes of loyal citizens.
      Won’t or can’t they come through for justice for America?

      And could change.org be effective to go to?

  2. Unfortunately this is the American justice system. Speed in getting thing off a judges calendar is prized more than adequate justice. This deal is not all that unusual.

  3. We learned from Garo Paylan and Amberin Zaman that there is Intel showing that Turkey is going to bring their hit squads abroad to liquidate dissidents. The reduced charges are sending out a very wrong message.

  4. Reading this article it appears the defendants case was presented in state court as opposed to Federal court. I would have preferred a Grand Jury indictment instead of a state court prosecution. By doing so the “deal” would have possibly been more difficult to dismiss the “Hate” element.
    Just my opinion……..

  5. A slight correction to Mr. Hamparian’s statement; the plea agreement before the court foresees a sentence of one year and one day. That one day is quite important because sentences up to and including one year are considered misdemeanors, whereas any crime carrying a sentence of over a year is a felony. Therefore upon a finding of guilt, both defendants will carry the stigma of being convicted felons for the rest of their lives along with the associated loss of their civil rights such as the right to vote.

  6. Where is the national media??This article should be on national news. It’s outrageous the prosecutor would even consider such a plea especially since our government in Washington condemned the violence. Of course it appears our President could care less about what happens to Americans on American soil. Disgusting

    • Just as it would be wrong to impose a lesser sentence on the defendants because of their general Turkish/Erdogan/Turkish Diaspora connections, it would also be wrong to impose a harsher sentence because of them, apart from the conspiracy count. If you look at other notorious “beatdown” cases in which the perps did not use a gun, the proposed sentence is not out of line – in California this could have resulted in no or misdemeanor jail time. Some courts would give more, and some less. A Court is also going to look at prior criminal history and impact on the perp family if sentencing guidelines so allow in DC.

      My advice to ANCA is not to demonstrate ifo the Courthouse on the day the judge announces the sentence. The judge may want to impose something harsher – like 18 months or more. However, to the degree that it seems political pressure is being applied to the court by Armenians, and other anti-Erdogan groups, the judge may retrench and stick with the proposed sentence or even something less to show that the court is not subject to pressure.

      The best way to uncover what actually happened before the beatdown is for someone to sue the defendants in civil court on behalf of the victims. This is clearly a case where punitive damages are warranted against the defendants and all who acted in concert with them. Rather than lose his house, one of the defendants may be willing to describe what really happened in lieu of losing his house and assets. If he pleads to his criminal guilt, he may not contest liability to the victims.

  7. As an anti-fascist Turk, I am deeply embarrassed by the fascism and disrespect for human rights of this current government. This government not only keeps embarrassing us anti-fascist Turks in the international stage, but it also keeps moving further and further away from democracy within Turkey. Especially since 2-3 years ago, democracy exists only in name in Turkey. And, sadly, I don’t see any hope for my country; at least for the near future.

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