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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 October 2005, 09:56 GMT 10:56 UK
Armenia heirs win $17m Axa payout
Armenian girls holding torches during 'genocide' commemoration
Armenia wants Turkey to admit the killings were "genocide"
The descendants of Armenians who died in mass killings by Ottoman Turks have agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit against French insurance giant Axa.

The case, filed in California, accused Axa of failing to pay death benefits on policies bought by Armenians who died.

Under the deal, the firm will pay $17m (9.7m) to Armenian charitable groups.

Armenians say 1.5m of their people were killed or deported under Ottoman Turkish rule in 1915. Turkey denies there was a systematic massacre.

Under the terms of the settlement, announced in Los Angeles, Axa will donate at least $3m to selected French-based Armenian charities.

Another $11m has been earmarked for the heirs of policyholders with subsidiaries of Axa that operated in the Ottoman Turkish Empire before 1915.

'Ultimate goal'

In the chaos that followed the killings, many were unable to obtain their insurance proceeds, lawyers for the claimants said.

The Axa settlement is expected to be approved by California's District Court in November. The US state is home to the world's largest population of Armenians outside their own country.

Axa has not yet commented on the deal, which will be administered in France.

The Axa case was the second of its kind to be brought in US courts. Earlier, New York Life Insurance Company agreed to pay $20m (11.4m) to descendants of Armenian policyholders who died in 1915.

Lawyer Mark Geragos said the settlements were "important building blocks... [towards]our ultimate goal, which is for Turkey and the US to officially acknowledge the genocide".

Turkey says up to 300,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died during civil strife in eastern Turkey during World War I, but angrily rejects the allegation of a planned "genocide" of Armenians.

Armenia remembers 1915 killings
24 Apr 05 |  Europe
Country profile: Turkey
09 Mar 05 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Armenia
10 Apr 05 |  Country profiles

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