The 7th Istanbul Heavy Penal Court of Turkey held an investigation of the Mavi Marmara ship anchored in Istanbul on Monday, in connection with charges against four leading Israeli generals in the Mavi Marmara case.
The attorneys of the victims in the Mavi Marmara raid and the 30 survivors of the Israeli attack on the ship participated in the crime scene investigation. Ramazan Ariturk, one of the lawyers, said, “We believe the crime scene investigation - which is an essential part of the court process = will speed the process.”
The Mavi Marmara was a Comoros-flagged passenger ship owned by a Turkish NGO - the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) - and was one of six civilian ships of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla targeted by an Israeli military operation on May 31, 2010.
The Gaza flotilla was created by an international coalition called the Free Gaza Movement which included the IHH. It aimed to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, which had heightened in 2007 when Hamas took over Gaza.
The Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla took place in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea.
Nine Turkish citizens were killed when Israeli commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara in a bungled raid, while a tenth activist later died from heavy wounds.
In May 2012, the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Turkey filed charges against leading members of the Israeli Army including Israeli Army Chief of Staff rau Aluf Gabiel Ashkenazi, Navy commander Eli Marom, Air Force intelligence chief Avishai Levy, and military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin, who were implicated in planning and implementing the attack.
The Chief Prosecutor has charged each of them with first-degree murder, assault, and torture. The indictment called for ten life sentences to be imposed on each suspect.
The four “fugitive suspects” were indicted by the 7th Istanbul Heavy Penal Court after its panel of judges voted unanimously to do so on May 28, 2012. They were accused of inciting murder and injury in the 144-page indictment.
The court issued an arrest warrant in absentia and a red notice for the suspects in May 2014.
The court also decided in March 2015 to hold a crime scene investigation on the Mavi Marmara in Istanbul on May 25.
Meanwhile, the 2nd Nevsehir Civil Court of First Instance recently sentenced Israel to pay compensation to a Turkish journalist Yucel Velioglu working for Turkey’s state owned Anadolu Agency who was aboard when the Mavi Marmara ship was attacked by the Israeli commandos.
The 2nd Nevsehir Civil Court of First Instance accepted Velioglu’s application for compensation, and ruled that the state of Israel must pay compensation of TL 40,000 ($ 14,900) for the pain and suffering it caused him, and TL 6,103 ( $2,300) in material compensation.
In a new development, an appeal of the IHH’s lawyers to the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the previous decision by court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda not to pursue the case, was accepted by the ICC on May 7.
The Pre-Chamber of the ICC will hear testimony from the relatives and attorneys of those who were injured and killed, and this could pave the way for the international prosecution of Israeli actions during the raid.
There have been two international probes into the incident. The first inquiry was the UN Human Rights Council Fact Finding Mission (UNHRC) report which found that Israeli actions were “disproportionate” and “betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality," and displayed “willful killing."
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also undertook another investigation called the Palmer Report which concluded the Israeli actions on the Mavi Marmara were "excessive and unreasonable.”