Armenian Genocide Deniers on Trial in Switzerland

ZURICH, Switzerland (Azat Or)–Three Turkish nationals have gone on trial for Zurich for denying the Armenian genocide. The three made the commen’s during a public demonstration in Winterthur in June last year and repeated them Tuesday in the courtroom.

They say they are sorry for the Armenia’s who died but argue that Turkey did not commit genocide, saying this is an “international lie.”

The prosecutor has asked for the accused to be fined up to 12,000 Swiss fran’s each. The defendants’ lawyer says his clients should go free because people can only be punished for racially motivated statemen’s denying genocide. He claims his clients made the commen’s out of patriotism.

One of the accused, Ali Mercan, is the number-two person in the Turkish Labor Party and represents the party in Europe. The other two are the chairmen of Zurich and Bern chapters of the Ataturk Organization, which claims to promote Kemal Ataturk’s ideals around the world. The organization has a large base in England and Germany and recently established the Swiss chapters. It is headquartered in Ankara and its chairman was recently arrested in Turkey in connection with the wave of arrests of ultranationalists in Tukey.

Chairman of the Switzerland-Armenia Friendship Society Sarkis Shahinian reported that a large number of Turks had flooded the courtroom during Tuesday’s hearing. Three representatives of the Armenian community were also present, as were a large number of media organizations.

Shahinian added that the judge was not quick to rule on the matter and announced that he would issue a written verdict in coming days after reviewing relevant documen’s. Shahinian added that the delay could only mean that officials were trying to buy more time.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan met Saturday in Bern with his Swiss counterpart Micheline Calmy-Rey. Relations between the two countries have been strained since Switzerland recognized the Armenian Genocide in 2003.

Last June, Turkish Labor Party leader Dogu Perincek was also charged by Switzerland for denying the Armenian Genocide and in 2004 the notorious Turkish historian Yusef Halacoglu was also charged with the same crime by Switzerland.

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