[JURIST] A Swiss court Friday convicted Turkish Workers Party [party website] leader Dogu Perincek [personal website] for denying that the mass killings of 1.5 million Armenians [ANI backgrounder] during World War I constituted genocide [JURIST news archive]. The Swiss canton of Vaud [official website], where Perincek made the denial in a 2005 speech, passed a law in 2003 criminalizing the denial of genocide as racial discrimination. Perincek has denied the charges, saying that he could not deny the genocide since there was no genocide to deny.
Armenians say 1.5 million of their people were killed in a genocide by Ottoman Turks during World War I through massacres or starvation. Turkey [JURIST news archive] acknowledges that many Armenians died, but denies that it was genocide [JURIST comment] and insists that the total number of victims was under one million. Last month, the French parliament deferred consideration of a bill [JURIST report] that would have made it a crime to deny the Armenian genocide. The US Congress is meanwhile considering a bill that would recognize the mass killings as genocide [JURIST report], to the considerable consternation of Turkish leaders [JURIST report; JURIST comment]. The Bush administration has spoken out against the bill, but the Democratic-led Congress may decide to pass a resolution condemning the killings in April. BBC News has more.