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Swiss drop probe against Turkish minister

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17:12 CEST+02:00

Swiss prosecutors said on Monday they would drop a probe into alleged remarks by Turkey's EU affairs minister denying the Armenian genocide, as the official enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

"After consultations with the Federal Department for Foreign Affairs, prosecutors of canton Zurich came to the conclusion that no criminal proceedings would be opened against Egemen Bagis, because as a Turkish EU minister he enjoyed immunity during his entire stay in Switzerland," said
prosecutors in a statement.

Denial of the Armenian genocide is a crime under Swiss anti-racism laws.

Bagis reportedly made the comments to a journalist during a visit to Zurich after attending the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in end-January in Davos.

According to Turkey's English-language newspaper Today's Zaman, he was asked about his views on a newly-adopted French bill criminalizing denial of the Armenian genocide and responded: "Switzerland is another country where it is a crime to deny the so-called genocide".

"Here I am in Switzerland today, and I'm saying the 1915 incidents did not amount to genocide. Let them come arrest me."

The paper said a complaint had been filed by members of Switzerland's Armenian community.

Armenia says that planned massacres and deportations under the Ottoman Empire left more than 1.5 million of its people dead in 1915, but Turkey maintains there was no genocide, saying there were no more than 500,000 fatalities as a result of civil strife and the impact of World War I.

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