Swiss to ask European court to review genocide denial case

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 11, 2014 2:15 PM

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland will ask the European Court of Human Rights to review a case involving a Turkish politician who denied that mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey in 1915 amounted to genocide, the Justice Ministry said on Tuesday.

A Swiss court had fined the leader of the leftist Turkish Workers' Party, Dogu Perincek, for having branded talk of an Armenian genocide "an international lie" during a 2007 lecture tour in Switzerland.

The European court, which upholds the 47-nation European Convention on Human Rights, said in December a Swiss law against genocide denial violated the principle of freedom of expression.

The ruling has implications for other European states such as France which have tried to criminalize the refusal to apply the term genocide to the massacres of Armenians during the breakup of the Ottoman empire.

Turkey accepts that many Armenians died in partisan fighting beginning in 1915 but denies that up to 1.5 million were killed and that this constituted an act of genocide - a term used by many Western historians and foreign parliaments.

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In requesting a referral of the case to the court's Grand Chamber, Switzerland is primarily seeking to clarify the scope available to domestic authorities in applying the anti-racism law, the Justice Ministry said in a statement.

(Reporting by Alice Baghdjian; Editing by Mark Heinrich)