YEREVAN, December 17. / ARKA /. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled today that a 2007 March ruling by the Lausanne Police Court in Switzerland finding that Dogu Perincek, the chairman of Turkish Workers' Party, was guilty of racial discrimination for denying the 1915 mass killings of Armenians as "genocide,” falls under freedom of expression.
Today’s ruling followed an appeal from the Turkish politician to his conviction in Switzerland after a complaint filed by the Switzerland-Armenia Association on July 15, 2005.
The ECHR ruling stated that "the free exercise of the right to openly discuss questions of a sensitive and controversial nature is one of the fundamental aspects of freedom of expression and distinguishes a tolerant and pluralistic democratic society from a totalitarian or dictatorial regime."
The original case emerged from Perincek's participation in a number of conferences in Switzerland in 2005, during which he publicly denied that the Ottoman Empire had perpetrated the crime of genocide against the Armenian people in 1915.
Perincek appealed against the ruling at the Swiss Court of Appeals as well as at the Federal Court, however both endorsed the lower court’s ruling saying that the Armenian genocide was historical fact.
The ECHR judgment is not final, as any party may request that the case be referred to the ECHR's Grand Chamber for a three-month period after the verdict. -0-