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French court rules genocide law unconstitutional

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 - 00:09

Paris: France`s Constitutional Council ruled Tuesday that a French law concerning the mass killings of Armenians a century ago violates the country`s constitution.

The law passed by France`s parliament in December makes it a crime to deny that the killings of some 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 constituted genocide.

Turkey, which says there was no systematic campaign against Armenians, has strongly opposed the French law.

Relations between France and Turkey have suffered since the law`s passage, with Turkey suspending its military and economic cooperation with France after the lower house approval of the measure in December. The French Senate gave the law the green light in late January.

Tuesday`s constitutional ruling is a blow to President Nicolas Sarkozy, who personally backed the law.

The measure had sowed divisions in France, with some lawmakers expressing some of the same concerns as Ankara, notably that not allowing people to deny that the mass killings of Armenians nearly a century ago was genocide impinges on freedom of expression and legislates a domain better left to historians.

France`s relations with Turkey were already strained, in large part because Sarkozy opposes Turkey`s entry into the European Union.

Bureau Report

First Published: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 - 00:09

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