Armenian case enters final hearing

Insurance Day
July 30, 2004

Armenian case enters final hearing

A hearing is being held today to give final approval for a $20m
settlement between New York Life Insurance and descendants of
Armenians killed almost 90 years ago in the Turkish Ottoman Empire.
The settlement relates to an estimated 2,300 policies sold by the
insurer to Armenians living in the Ottoman Empre in the late 1800s
and early 1900s.

>From April 1915 onwards, many of these policyholders were among the
1.5m slaughtered in attacks on Armenians within the empire.
California insurance commissioner John Garamendi, a leading figure in
the campaign to earn the settlement for descendants of those killed,
described the action as a “deliberate, systematic and
government-controlled genocide”. The settlement was given preliminary
approval at a hearing in January, and final approval is expected to
be given in today’s hearing.

Brian Kabateck, an attorney representing the plaintiffs and who is of
Armenian descent and lost family in the genocide, explained: “This is
the first time a court anywhere in the US or possibly the world has
formally recognised the Armenian genocide and the trauma and turmoil
that resulted.

“While this settlement is not repatriation for the genocide, as
lawyers, we can help bring recognition that further recognises the
Armenian genocide something the US and Turkey still refuse to do.”

Armenians have always maintained 1.5m people were executed by Turkish
authorities between 1915 and 1919 on accusations of helping the
invading Russian army. Although France and Russia have already
recognised the genocide, Turkey and the US have always rejected the
claims, saying Armenians were killed in civil unrest associated with
the collapse of the empire.

Mr Kabateck has said the settlement will mark a significant step in
the campaign towards getting the US to acknowledge the act as
genocide. Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry has promised to
formally recognise the Armenian genocide if he is elected.

Mr Garamendi is set to continue his prominent role in the process, as
he will be responsible for appointing a three-member settlement fund
board which will oversee the approval of claims. This board will also
be responsible for distributing £3m ($5.45m) of the settlement to
nine Armenian charitable organisations.