STRASBOURG, France, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Prosecutions of people who deny the Armenian massacre of 1915 are violations of the freedom of speech, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.
Rejecting a conviction in Switzerland, the court said "the right to openly debate sensitive questions that are likely to displease someone is a fundamental aspect of freedom of expression," Radio France Internationale reported Tuesday.
A Lausanne court in 2007 found Dogu Pernicek, leader of the nationalist Turkish Workers Party, guilty of "denying the Armenian genocide for racist motives."
Pernicek did not deny in speeches that thousands of Armenians had been killed, but said claims the Ottoman Empire had genocidal intentions were "an international lie."
Denying, belittling or justifying genocide is a violation of Swiss law and the Lausanne court said the facts of the genocide were common knowledge.
The ECHR said no consensus existed on the question of whether the deaths of the Armenians constituted genocide. Drawing a comparison, the court said there no doubt of the Nazis' intent in killing millions of Jews.
France will reportedly introduce to parliament in the next few months a proposal banning denial of the Armenian genocide. A previous law passed in 2011 was ruled unconstitutional by France's Constitutional Council.