January 28, 2018 | On January 27, 1973, Armenian American extremist, Gourgen Yanikian, assassinated the Los Angeles Turkish Consul General Mehmet Baydar and Vice Consul Bahadir Demir, after inviting the Turkish diplomats to his hotel suite to present the Turkish Government with “gifts.” The supposed gifts were a bank note and a painting stolen from the Ottoman Topkapi Palace. After greeting the diplomats, exchanging niceties, and offering tea, Yanikian left for his bedroom, retrieved his loaded weapon, entered the reception suite, and emptied nine rounds into the bodies of Messrs. Baydar and Demir. Yanikian shot two additional rounds into the heads of both men who already lay dead in a pool of blood.
Yanikian then put down his weapon, called the concierge, admitted to the killings, and waited for the police to come and arrest him. That day, Armenian papers published a letter from Yanikian urging Armenians to wage war on people of Turkish heritage.
Yanikian was tried in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Santa Barbara, convicted of first degree murder, and sentenced to life imprisonment on July 2, 1973. However, California’s Armenian American Governor, George Deukmejian, ordered the release of Yanikian on parole on January 31, 1984. (Click here to read the trial transcripts.)
The bodies of Messrs. Baydar and Demir were returned to Turkey for family funerals. Mr. Baydar left behind a widow and two daughters. Mr. Demir, who was newly married, was on his first foreign assignment.
Yanikian died soon after his release from prison. Hundreds of Armenian Americans attended the funeral of Yanikian. Many kissed his hands in the open coffin ceremony.