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Descendants of Armenian massacre victims to sue bank, insurer

Agence France Presse 26-10-2005

PARIS, Oct 26 (AFP) - Descendants of victims of a World War I massacre of Armenians have filed suit in the United States against Germany's Deutsche Bank to claim deposits left by the dead, their lawyers said here Wednesday

"Deutsche Bank took the money and has kept the money for 90 years," attorney Mark Geragos told reporters.

The lawyers said they were also filing suit against Turkey for restitution of assets. Turkey has always rejected accusations that it was responsible for the 1915 genocide.

Attorney Brian Katabeck said the lawyers had filed suit three months ago against Deutsche Bank, Germany's leading commercial bank. "They were operating in the Ottoman empire with headquarters in Constantinople before the genocide."

"Requests for restitution were made after the genocide to Deutsche Bank but it refused," said Geragos.

"Armenians deposited their money in that bank and they never turned over any of the money."

"Even small deposits would have made a difference for people who had no homes, who were thrown out of their villages and needed to start a new life," said Kabateck

"Deutsche Bank could have made lists available to refugee centres, to widows, to orphans, but didn't", said Kabateck. "Deutsche Bank and others were asked repeatedly to provide lists."

Asked why Deutsche Bank was being singled out, Geragos said: "Deutsche Bank is the first of many. Part of what we're doing is archival research. As we find the documents, then we assemble those in order to put together as a law suit. "So that we've got irrefutable proofs of all these things before we file a law suit. For Deutsche Bank, we think we have them".

Noting that Germany had a very close relationship with its World War I ally Turkey, Kabateck said the lawyers had also filed a law suit against the German insurance company Victoria.

"The law suit is stalled because the German government won't release what's called the service of process. Because under the law, you have to serve a company in Germany and then they have to come to the United States to respond. And the German government has intervened," he explained.

"They have to be formally served through legal channels," said Geragos. "But the problem is that the German government has set up obstacles to the service of process of that company."

"So we've filed a class action but has not technically been served... we would like to know why Berlin think it's not appropriate".

"We're preparing something against Turkey," Geragos also said.

"We're investigating options in terms of retrieving what is rightfully Armenian from the government of Turkey."

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More than $20,000,000 stolen by the German firm during Genocide era

Legal proceedings under way to seek justice for heirs of those who assets were stolen

Thousands of Armenian deportees were reduced to slavery on Deutsche Bank's road works

We call the descendants of Armenian Genocide survivors, defenders of human rights, European leaders, and all Euro citizens to protest Deutsche Bank's refusal to accept responsibility for the crimes it committed in 1915 and continues to profit from today.

In a manner consistent with the U.S-based New York Life Insurance Company and the French AXA Life Insurance Company, Deutsche Bank illegally appropriated funds and property from genocide victims and, as such, played a unconscionable role in Ottoman Turkey's destruction of the Armenian population between 1915 and 1923.

Recent estimates by experts in the field show that Armenians in the Ottoman Empire were, at the time of the Genocide, owned more than 20 million dollars that were held in trust by the German company. Deutsche Bank never returned these amounts to the heirs of genocide victims.

Compounding Deutsche Bank's intransigence was its use of Armenian deportees as slave workers on the construction of its Berlin-Baghdad road works. In similar fashion, nearly 30 years later, IG Farben exploited the forced labour of Jewish deportees from Birkenau-Monowicz. Following their slave labor, these Armenians were exterminated during deportations into deserts of Syria.

We noted that the current president of Deutsche Bank congratulates his company for fulfilling "its social responsibilities," a statement that stands in sharp contrast to both its genocidal complicity in 1915 and its refusal to accept responsibility for its crimes today.

We, noting that New York Life and AXA have been condemned for their crimes, welcome the fact that similar proceedings are under way against Deutsche Bank.

Consequently, we call on all EU citizens to call on Deutsche Bank to live up to its own standards by accepting responsibility for its wrongdoing and fairly compensating those whose families it has stolen from.

- European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy - CDCA France - CDCA Belgique - Nederlands Armeens Comité Voor Rechtvaardigheid en Democratie - Armenian National Committee of Scandinavia - Armenian National Committee of Greece - Armenian National Committee of Cyprus - European Armenian Federation Austrian Chapter - European Armenian Federation German Chapter

Fax Campaign: Send a Free-Fax to the Chairman of the Management Board of the Deutsche Bank AG, Dr. Ackermann