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Turkish court clears priest of backing Armenian genocide resolution

The court in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir rules that Yusuf Akbulut is not guilty for comments he was accused of making to local reporters in October

A Turkish court acquitted Assyrian Priest Yusuf Akbulut of charges of inciting hatred for backing international calls for Turkey to recognize the Ottoman Empire’s killings of Armenians as genocide.

The Diyarbakir State Security Court (DGM) had filed a lawsuit against Akbulut on grounds of making statements supporting a bill on the alleged genocide of Armenians by a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee.

The court in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir ruled that Akbulut was not guilty for comments he was accused of making to local reporters in October.

Akbulut was present at the trial in the Diyarbakir No. 2 DGM yesterday. Akbulut’s lawyer, Abdulkadir Pekdemir, stated that they cannot accept the transcripts of the tape recordings of Akbulut’s comments as expert reports, as they were recorded unbeknownst to his client.

Turkey says that hundreds of thousands of Armenians were killed during World War I while the Ottoman Empire tried to quell civil unrest, but insists the killings did not amount to genocide.

The court said that Akbulut, of the Assyrian Virgin Mary Church in Diyarbakir, “did not act with the particular intention of inciting hatred.”

“I have been expecting such a verdict. I was not guilty and the court confirmed that,” Akbulut said.

The verdict was greeted with applause in the courtroom where some 50 official observers — some from European countries and human rights groups and parliamentarians from Sweden and Germany — were following the trial.

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