The NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT) is re-appealing for assistance from the community after new details came to light in the investigation into the 1980 assassination of a Turkish diplomat and his bodyguard in Sydney’s east. 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.
Mr Ariyak died at the scene, and Mr Sever died a short time later at St Vincent’s Hospital.
Despite extensive investigations by police at the time and over the years, no one has ever been charged.
Following a formal review last year, the NSW JCTT, which comprises the NSW Police Force’s Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics Command, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the NSW Crime Commission, established Operation Esslemont to re-investigate the murders and is using advancements in investigative techniques and forensic technologies.
To assist their initial inquiries, the NSW Government reward for information was increased to $1 million on the 39th anniversary (17 December 2019), which has assisted in providing a number of new lines of inquiry.
Acting on these new lines of inquiry, police divers from Marine Area Command recently conducted initial searches in Sydney Harbour off Greenwich Point regarding items of interest to the investigation.
As investigations continue – both domestically and internationally, JCTT officers are re-appealing to the community for information, which may assist with current lines of inquiry.
Investigators are keen to speak with anyone who may have details relating to the persons responsible for, and assisting in; the planning and carrying out of the assassination, and the concealment of items such as the motorcycle, weapon and other items used during the assassination both before and after the offence.
NSW Police Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics Commander, Assistant Commissioner Mark Walton, said despite encouraging leads being followed by investigators, the JCTT needs further community assistance.
“Operation Esslemont investigators have been working meticulously through the original case files and have established new and significant lines of inquiry,” Assistant Commissioner Mark Walton said.
“Since our appeal late last year, we have received incredible interest from the community but given the politically motivated nature of the assassination, we believe there’s still a reluctance to help us.
“But experience tells us that the passage of time – particularly changes in relationships between people with knowledge of a crime – coupled with a hefty reward can be the key to breaking the wall of silence.
“With that in mind, I urge anyone who has information that will help the JCTT deliver justice for Mr Ariak and Mr Sever to come forward now and share what they know with investigators.”
JCTT investigators remind the community that the $1 million reward remains in place for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for Mr Ariak and Mr Sever’s murders.
Anyone with information that may assist Operation 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.