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Police release audio recording of responsibility claim for 1980 assassination of Turkish Consul-General and his bodyguard

Turkish Consul-General Sarik Ariyak, aged 50, and his bodyguard, Engin Sever, aged 28, were shot outside a residence on Portland Street, Dover Heights, about 9.45am on Wednesday 17 December 1980.

Mr Ariyak and Mr Sever were leaving the residence in separate vehicles, when they were approached by two unknown men, who fired multiple shots at close range before fleeing the area on a motorcycle.

Despite the efforts of emergency services, Mr Ariyak died at the scene, and Mr Sever died a short time later at St Vincent’s Hospital.

Shortly after the attack, responsibility was claimed by the Justice Commandos of the Armenian Genocide, but despite extensive investigations by police, no one has ever been charged.

A re-investigation by the NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT), which comprises the NSW Police Force, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the NSW Crime Commission, is being conducted under Strike Force Esslemont.

As part of their ongoing investigation, strike force detectives have released the audio recording of a phone call, which was made to a media outlet shortly after the shootings, claiming responsibility for the attack.

In the recording, a female voice claims responsibility for the assassinations on behalf of the ‘Justice Commandos of the Armenian Genocide’, stating the attacks were in retaliation for the injustice done to Armenians.

Investigators are also seeking assistance to decipher inaudible words spoken after, “The authors of…” in the case they are of significance to the investigation.

Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics Commander, Assistant Commissioner Mark Walton, urged the community to listen to the recording intently.

“Identifying the female through her voice – or recognising any indecipherable words in the audio – will greatly assist us with this investigation,” Assistant Commissioner Walton said.

“Police have strong reason to believe that there are members of the public who are aware of who this person is, and we urge them to come forward.

“While we continue this investigation, we suspect there are people who know exactly what happened that day but have not yet been willing to speak with authorities.

“We’d like to hear from these people as soon as possible, as well as anyone whose memory may be refreshed by the audio we’ve released – no matter how insignificant the information may seem, it could be invaluable to the investigation.

“I’d also like to remind the community that the $1 million reward, which was announced in 2019, is still available to those who provide information in relation to the case,” Assistant Commissioner Walton said.

Up to $1 million can be paid for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the men’s murders.

Anyone with information that may assist Strike Force Esslemont investigators is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.

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