The main Chamber of the European court of Human Rights (ECHR) began to listen to the arguments of a Turkish man, convicted in Switzerland for denial of the Armenian genocide. He sees it as a violation of his right to free speech. “I don’t have a single word of hate, any feelings against Armenians”, Dogu Perinçek said when he took the stand in front of the main Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights. The Turk nationalist was sentenced by the Swiss justice system in 2007 for describing the Armenian genocide as an ‘international lie”.
In Strasburg, Dogu Perinçek said he was defending his point of view on “a scientific basis” in Lausanne in 2007. He used tens of kilos of documents. He thinks the Ottoman State did not “intend to completely wipe out the Armenian population”.
Even if you do not agree with his opinion, Mr Perinçek says he “evokes his right to Free Speech”.
At the Court of First Instance in December 2013, The ECHR agreed with Turkish politician Dogu Perinçek. It considered that the Swiss justice system has violated his right to Freedom of Speech by fining him for racial discrimination in 2007.
But Swiss authorities have requested that the case be reexamined in Strasburg, this time by the main Chamber of the ECHR. It has not said when it will give its – definitive – decision, but it will probably take several months.
Wednesday’s audience will give the 17 judges of the main Chamber the chance to hear the arguments from both sides involved in the case, Turkey and Armenia.
Turkey has always refused to admit a planned elimination, saying around 500,000 Armenians died (1,5 million according to Armenia) during combat and because of famine. The Armenians fought on the side of Turkey’s enemy Russia.
This case is highly symbolic as preparations are made to commemorate 100 years since the events of 1915. For Strasburg, Armenia has chosen to be represented by a lawyer also known outside legal circles: Amal Alamuddin, the wife of Hollywood star George Clooney.