Conviction for denial of Armenian genocide
Dogu Perinçek, a Turkish politician who repeatedly called the Armenian genocide during the years 1915 to 1917, a lie on his visits to Switzerland, was found guilty by the Lausanne court on 9 March 2007. The court used the Swiss anti-racism legislation as a foundation for their judgment. They argued that he put himself on the side of the perpetrators, the Turkish, and made the real victims, the Armenians, to perpetrators. He was also well aware that his statements were in breach of the Swiss anti-racism legislation and therefore no alleviating circumstances were allowed. «Dogu Perinçek is stubborn, arrogant and provocative,» the judges concluded. The Court sentenced Perinçek to a 90-day suspended jail term and fined him 3,000 Swiss francs, or $2,460, in line with the prosecutor's request. He also ordered Perinçek to pay a symbolic fine of 1,000 Swiss francs to the Swiss-Armenian Association for «moral injury.»
First time recognition
The well-known Professor for penal law, Marcel Niggli of the University of Freiburg, was «impressed» by the verdict, because this is the first time that the killing of the Armenians was described as genocide in Switzerland. The court showed great courage, because it did not was not influenced by political games and «took a purely legal decision», he said. The Swiss Minister of Justice started to build up pressure on his visit to Ankara, where he expressed his dissatisfaction with the Swiss anti-racism legislation. His turkish counterpart reinforced this statement by visiting Bern shortly before the beginning of the trial.
Georg Kreis, President of the Federal Commission against Racism and also historian, is also satisfied with the result. It was of particular importance to him that the racist component of the denial of the genocide was clearly emphasised. «In the case of the Armenians, an entire ethnic group, who is de facto the victim, is being turned into perpetrator by the people who deny this genocide,» he said.
There were strong reactions to this verdict by the Turkish government. The Ministy of Foreign Affairs in Ankara said that this verdict can under no circumstances be accepted by the Turkish people. During his visit in Aserbaidchan the Turkish Prime Minister once again took the opportunity to reject the notion of a genocide against Armenians. Turkey insists that the Armenians were killed in civil unrest during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
Dogu Perinçek already appealed the judgement on 12 March 2007, but it was rejected in June 2007. His lawyer said he was prepared to go all the way to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, if necessary.
- Genocide denial trial raises many questions
Swissinfo, 5 March 2007
- Swiss Court convicts Turkish politician of genocide denial
The New York Times, 9 March 2007
- Swiss Court rejects appeal from Turkish politician
Swissinfo, 21 June 2007