Swiss Legal Victory Paves Way for EU Legislation Criminalizing Genocide Denial

BRUSSELS–The European Armenian Federation (EAF) called last Friday’s verdict in the case of Dogu Perincek unparalleled because Armenian genocide denial has, for the first time, been condemned as such by a penal court and represents the first time that the genocide has been established by a court of criminal law. "At the time when the European Union is considering EU legislation aiming at penalizing genocide denial, the Swiss case shows the path the follow, i.e. the one in which denials of all clear instances of genocides are fined–including those, such as the Armenian genocide, which had never been previously sanctioned by an international jurisdiction," stated Hilda Tchoboian, chairperson of the European Armenian Federation. Perincek, the chairman of the Turkish Workers Party, who twice publicly denied the Armenian Genocide inside the Swiss Confederation was fined 3,000 CHF and forced to pay another 1,000 in damages to the Switzerland-Armenia Association by a Lausanne criminal court. Under the Swiss penal code, any act of denying, belittle or justifying genocide is a violation of the country’s anti-racism legislation. The court also ordered Perincek to pay for the trial expenses of both the public ministry (5,800 CHF) and the Swiss Armenia Association (10 000 CHF). He was also fined 100 CHF/day for a period of 90 days. The last penalty was suspended but could come into force, or be escalated into jail term if he repeats his offense during the next 24 months. Perincek immediately said that he would appeal the verdict, which he termed "racist and imperialist." Perincek’s initial strategy to question the reality of the Armenian Genocide completely failed in court, with the prosecutor arguing that numerous national parliamen’s have already recognized the Genocide. Similarly, the court focused on the Perincek’s racial motivation, which was apparent even during the trial. "It is of an utmost importance that the court understood and recognized the defendant’s racist motivation because, actually, there is no genocide denial which is not based on racist ideologies: denial is merely the continuation of genocide by other means," stressed Tchoboian. The EAF congratulated Sarkis Shahinian of the Switzerland Armenia Association which initiated the legal proceeding and were parties to the action.

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