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Descendants of Armenian genocide victims sue Turkey for $65M

December 16, 2010|By Carol J. Williams; carol.williams@latimes.com
(File photo )

Three Armenian American descendants of victims of the Armenian genocide nearly a century ago filed suit Wednesday against the government of Turkey and two Turkish banks, claiming they are owed at least $65 million for property seized from their relatives and untold millions more for the profits their lands generated.

The lawsuit filed by two Los Angeles-area residents and a Washington, D.C. man could be the start of a flood of litigation spurred by last week's ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upholding a California law recognizing the crimes committed against Armenians after 1915 as genocide.

The appeals court reversed its earlier opinion that the state law was unconstitutional because it interfered with the federal government's power to decide foreign policy matters.

"Now that that obstacle is gone, it definitely opens up the possibility of many more lawsuits being filed" in pursuit of compensation for expropriated property, said Michael J. Bazyler, a Chapman University law professor and an expert on litigation stemming from the Holocaust and other crimes against humanity.

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