April Saturday Cinema presents; "Tehlirian on Trial"
A fascinating story of conspiracy and revenge.
On March 15, 1921, Armenian student Soghomon Tehlirian walked up to Talat Pasha, the former ruler of the Ottoman Empire, and shot him in the head. There were numerous witnesses and everyone expected for an easy trial resulting in a death sentence for Tehlirian, but the trial turned into a judgement of his victim -- one of the architects of the Armenian genocide.
Tehlirian claimed to have watched the murder of his entire family, and witnesses testified to atrocities the Armenians had suffered. For members of the jury and for most of the public, it was the first time they learnt of the genocide and they were horrified. After an emotional two-day trial, Tehlirian was judged not guilty and walked free.
Yet, Tehlirian was not just a grieving student that he portrayed himself to be; he was part of "Operation Nemesis" -- a group of Armenians who swore revenge for the genocide and had drawn up a list of 10 responsible people judged most responsible. Between 1920-22, eight of those people were killed. Tehlirian himself had already killed a Turkish Secret Service officer before he shot Pasha. And in publicly killing Pasha, he was following a second, equally important order -- ensuring that there would a public trial with lots of press coverage where accounts of the genocide would be publicized.