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Amal Clooney takes on Armenia genocide case in European court

Amal Clooney takes on Armenia genocide case in European court

Amal Clooney to take on next high profile case after Elgin Marbles – the denial of the Armenian genocide by Turks in 1915

Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney

Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney Photo: LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP
Nick Squires

By , Rome

7:24PM GMT 12 Jan 2015

After weighing into the Elgin Marbles controversy and the imprisonment of journalists in Egypt, Amal Clooney is to step into another high-profile case – the Armenian genocide.

A century on from the 1915 genocide, in which up to 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered by the Ottoman Turks, the newly wed wife of George Clooney will be part of a legal team representing Armenia in a case involving denial of the genocide by a Turkish politician.

Dogu Perincek was found guilty by a Swiss court in 2008 of denying, during a visit to Switzerland, that the genocide ever took place.

Mr Perincek, from the Left-wing Turkish Workers’ Party, called the genocide “an international lie” and was fined by the court in Switzerland.

He appealed to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which ruled in Dec 2013 that Switzerland had violated his right to free expression.

That appeal is now being challenged by Armenia, with the case to be heard by the Strasbourg court’s 17-member Grand Chamber. The first hearing has been scheduled for Jan 28.

The Armenians argue that denying the genocide should be a crime, just as negating the Holocaust of six million Jews is a punishable offence in many countries.

They say judges from the court in Strasbourg made a series of legal and factual errors when they overturned Mr Perincek’s original conviction.

During the case, Turkey submitted historical documents questioning the veracity of the genocide.

As with the Elgin Marbles case, Mrs Clooney will work alongside her head of chambers, Geoffrey Robertson, QC.

Their involvement in the case was confirmed to The Telegraph by their chambers in London.

Mr Robertson recently published a book on the historical controversy, “An Inconvenient Genocide: Who Now Remembers the Armenians?”.

The book, released in October, “proves beyond reasonable doubt that the horrific events of 1915 constituted the crime against humanity that is known today as genocide”, according to the publishers, Random House.

Armenians around the world will commemorate the centenary of the genocide on April 24, when Armenians began to be rounded up and killed by the Turks.

Tens of thousands of able-bodied men were killed while women, children and the elderly were forced out of Turkey on death marches into the Syrian desert.

In a contemporary report, the New York Times described the massacres as “a plan to exterminate the whole Armenian people”.

Turkey continues to deny that the genocide took place, but it is recognised as such by more than 20 countries around the world.

Two weeks after marrying the Hollywood actor and director in Venice, Oxford-educated Mrs Clooney was in Athens to advise the Greek government on how best to proceed with their claim over the Elgin Marbles, which are on display at the British Museum in London.

A barrister with Doughty Street Chambers in London, she was called to the bar in 2010 and specialises in international law, human rights and extradition. Fluent in French and Arabic, she has represented Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, and Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister of Ukraine.


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