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9th Circuit Panel on Seeking Reparations for Land Sized by Turkey During the 1915 Armenian Genocide


Attorneys for Armenians seeking reparations for land seized by Turkey during the 1915 Armenian Genocide told a Ninth Circuit panel Monday that relevant international laws condemning Turkey’s actions existed at that time and should factor in current litigation, Courthousenews reports. 

At issue before the panel is whether the court can make a determination on international war crimes policy and whether or not the statute of limitations has expired for families of victims seeking reparations from the current Turkish government.

U.S. Circuit Judge Andrew Hurwitz asked an attorney for plaintiffs, heirs to landowners who were forced to flee the former Ottoman Empire, what international laws existed in 1915 that expressly "forbade that conduct."

Kathryn Boyd of McKool Smith said it is well-established in international law that the "expropriation of property" by a nation against sovereign people is a crime against humanity.

"U.S. law, Turkey’s military tribunals, laws recognized by allies at the Paris Peace Treaty and the United Nations have acknowledged that what happened to the Armenian people was unlawful," Boyd said. "The conduct has been condemned repeatedly."

"There is no doubt that we condemn it now," Hurwitz said, adding that the panel must consider whether any laws forbade genocide before the Nuremberg trials of 1945-1946.

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