Turkey Transfers to France Body of Executed ASALA Member


Levon Ekmekjian

Levon Ekmekjian

PARIS (AFP) — The Turkish authorities have transferred to France the body of an Armenian militant 33 years after he was hanged for carrying out a deadly assault on Ankara’s international airport, a report said on January 7.

The body of Levon Ekmekjian was flown to France following an appeal to the interior ministry from his family, who wanted the body to have a religious burial there, the Turkish Hurriyet daily said.

Ekmekjian, a Lebanese Armenian, was executed on January 28, 1983 at Ankara’s Ulucanlar prison after being found guilty of carrying out the attack.

The Turkish authorities last week informed the family through their lawyer Eren Keskin that the interior ministry had agreed to the long-standing request for the transfer of the body, Hurriyet said.

The location of the remains in Ankara’s Cebeci Asri cemetery was confirmed and the body was then exhumed and then sent by air to France.

Ekmekjian was affiliated with the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA), which carried out a string of deadly attacks in the 1970s and 1980s purportedly aimed at avenging the mass killing of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire from 1915 in World War I.

One of ASALA’s avowed goals was to force the Turkish government to acknowledge that the genocide had taken place.

Ekmekjian stormed Ankara’s Esenboga airport on August 7, 1982 along with co-attacker Zohrab Sarkissian, detonating a bomb and opening fire on officers and passengers. At least seven people were killed on the spot by the attack and dozens more wounded.

Sarkissian was killed by security forces but Ekmekjian was wounded, arrested, put on trial and sentenced to death. Ekmekjian, born in Beirut, was 25 at the time of his execution.