The French insurance company Axa paid out $1 million (680,000 euros) Monday, as the first installment of a $17.5 million settlement to compensate life-policy holders killed in the Armenian genocide, lawyers said.
The settlement was reached in 2005 following a class-action suit brought in the United States by descendants of victims who held policies with insurance companies now incorporated into Axa.
The money was handed over to three French-Armenian charities by the lawyers who brought the suit. The charities will receive a further two million dollars in the next two months.
The rest of the money is to go to individuals, who have until January 7 to register on an Internet site. So far 5,000 people -- mainly in the USA, Armenia and France -- have laid a claim.
"It is very important symbolically for as many people as possible to look back into their history and see if their family is mentioned on the Internet site," said Brian Kabateck, one of the lawyers.
The American insurance company New York Life made a similar settlement for $20 million in 2000, and lawyers have actions pending against Deutsche Bank and Dresdner Bank of Germany.