Prosecutors asked a Swiss police court Thursday to fine a Turkish politician 3,000 Swiss francs ($2,450) for denying that the killing of Armenians in the early 20th century was genocide.
Dogu Perincek, the leader of the Turkish Workers' Party, was charged with breaking a Swiss law by rejecting that the World War I-era killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians amounted to genocide during a visit to Switzerland in 2005. He has since repeated his claim, including at his trial earlier this week.
The case is seen as a test of whether denying that the Turks committed genocide is a violation of Swiss anti-racism legislation. The law has previously been applied to Holocaust denial.
Prosecutors also sought a suspended fine of 9,000 francs ($7,360). A decision in the trial, which has strained Swiss-Turkish relations, is expected on Friday.
Meanwhile, a Turkish man accused of firing in the air outside an Armenian church in Istanbul claimed Wednesday his real target had been Patriarch Mesrob II, the spiritual leader of the tiny Armenian community, the Anatolia news agency reported. "I had prepared it for (Mesrob) Mutafyan II," Volkan Karova shouted to reporters here as he and fellow suspect Yilmaz Can Ozalp were being escorted to the prosecutor's office to give their testimony, the agency reported.
It was not clear whether he had intended to physically attack the patriarch or scare him. Later Wednesday, a court charged the two men with "threatening by firing shots" and "carrying an unlicensed gun" and sent them to jail pending trial, the agency said.
The pair had been arrested late Sunday just hours after two men fired a shot in the air outside a church in the city's Kumkapi district. At the time, a ceremony was being held there for slain ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.
The ceremony at the church, on the European side of Istanbul, was to mark the 40th day since Dink, the 52-year-old ethnic Armenian editor of the bilingual Agos weekly, was shot dead outside his office. It was led by Patriarch Mesrob II, who represents the 80,000 Armenians in Turkey.
Anxiety has engulfed the Armenian community and intellectuals since Dink's murder on Januray 19, and in recent interviews Mesrob II has said that his office had been receiving threats. Dink had angered nationalist circles and the courts for describing the World War I massacres of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire as genocide, a label that Ankara fiercely rejects. Nine people have so far been charged over his murder, which prosecutors believe was the work of ultra-nationalists.