‘Computer-aged’ COMFIT image released over 1980 assassination of Turkish Consul-General and his bodyguard

Investigators have released COMFIT images as they continue to appeal for information into the assassination of a Turkish diplomat and his bodyguard in Sydney’s east nearly four decades ago.

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 review and 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, was recently launched under Strike Force Esslemont.

The review is currently identifying areas of the original investigation, which could benefit from advances in technology, including forensic sciences. New analysis and examinations will be conducted in due course.

As part of their ongoing investigation, strike force detectives have re-released the original COMFIT images of two men who they believe can assist with their inquiries.

Investigators have also released a computer-aged image of one of the men, which may assist with identification.

At the time, the first man was described as having a well-tanned complexion, being between 183-188cm tall, with a solid build and broad shoulders, dark eyes, and full dark beard, which was protruding from the bottom of a white open-faced motorcycle helmet. It is expected he would now be aged in his mid-to-late 60s.

The second man was described as having an olive complexion, being between 173-178cm tall, with a thin build, dark, wavy hair, which was parted on the side, and a thick moustache. It is expected he would now be aged in his mid-to-late 60s.

Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics Commander, Assistant Commissioner Mark Walton, urged the community to take a look at both the original and aged images.

“Anyone who may recognise the men depicted in the COMFIT image, or who has any information about the case, is urged to come forward,” Assistant Commissioner Walton said.

“While we are only in the initial stages of the re-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 images 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 of the $1 million reward for information, which was announced earlier this month, is available for the case.”

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.

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