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Turkish court charges senior IDF officials over Gaza flotilla deaths

Turkish judges approve demand for a sentence of a combined 18.000
years for former IDF chief of staff and other officers allegedly
responsible for deaths aboard the Mavi Marmara cruise ship in 2010.

Barak Ravid

May.28, 2012
3:40 PM


A Turkish court on Monday formally pressed charges against
members of Israel's military for the killing of nine people aboard a
Turkish ship trying to break Israel's blockade of Gaza in 2010, Turkey's
state-run news agency said.

The court in Istanbul voted unanimously to approve an indictment
against Israel's former military chief Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, along
with the former heads of its navy, air force intelligence, and military
intelligence, Eliezer Marom, Amos Yadlin, and Avishai Levi, the
Anadolu Agency said. They face nine consecutive life terms in prison for
"inciting to kill monstrously, and by torturing," the agency added.

It is unlikely Israeli military members will be brought before Turkey's
judicial system, since Israel does not regard them as criminals. If
they are convicted in absentia at the end of the trial process, which
could take months if not years, the Turkish court could issue an order
for their arrest, but such a move would be symbolic and not binding.

A week ago, the Turkish newspaper “Sabah” first reported the upcoming
indictments; however Israeli officials refused to comment on the reports
until they were endorsed by the Turkish government, or until the
indictments were delivered to the court.

The move comes just a few days ahead of the second anniversary of the
May 31 raid. The ship had been part of a flotilla sailing toward Gaza to
protest Israel's blockade.

The court also agreed to press charges against several unidentified
soldiers who raided the ship, the Turkish news agency said. No trial
date has been set. Turkey has tried without success to get Israel to
apologize for the attack, and to compensate those killed as a
precondition for normalizing relations. Israel has solely expressed
regret for the loss of lives.

Israel says its troops opened fire after coming under attack by
activists wielding axes, knives and metal rods. It says soldiers
rappelled on to the deck armed with non-lethal paintball guns as their
primary weapons, and only resorted to using handguns after they were

The indictment rejected Israeli claims that Israeli commandos who
boarded the Mavi Marmara acted in self defense, saying that Israeli
commandos used disproportional force by firing with heavy weapons and
automatic rifles on passengers who only carried "plastic flag masts,
spoons, and forks."

The indictment said some of the victims were shot dead from close range and from the back, the agency reported earlier.

According to Turkish news agencies, nine life sentences were demanded -
one for each of the casualties aboard the Mavi Marmara – as part of the
indictment, which calls for a combined 18,000 years of imprisonment for
the four former officers, punishment for crimes committed during the
raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla. The indictment includes 490 victims and
complainants, among them 189 were injured during the raid.

The charges against members of the Israeli military, included
commandeering vehicles, voluntary manslaughter, attempted murder,
persecution and causing damage to the ship, the agency said Monday.

A United Nations probe into the incident found Israel's naval blockade
of Gaza legally imposed "as a legitimate security measure" but added
that the killing of eight Turkish activists and a Turkish-American was

Turkey has rejected the report's findings, saying Israel had no right
to raid the ship in international waters and said it would never
recognize the blockade's legitimacy.

Turkey has also slapped a series of sanctions on Israel, once a top
military trading partner, which included expelling senior Israeli
diplomats and suspending all military deals. It has also vowed to back
the Palestinian bid for recognition of their statehood at the United

Added: May-29-2012 Occurred On: May-29-2012
World News
Tags: Gaza, flotilla, Turkey, Israel, Palestine, raid, massacre, war crime, indictment, charges, prison, Mavi, Marmara
Location: Turkey (load item map)
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