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Turkey begins to try Israeli military over Gaza ship killings

Turkish court to issue arrest warrants for the retired officers who would be obliged to be extradited to Turkey

Source : Agencies | 06 Nov 2012

A Turkish court began on Tuesday a trial of Israeli military officers in regard to a 2010 raid on the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara, which left eight Turks and one Turkish-American dead.

Four Israeli officers former Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of General Staff Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, Naval Forces commander Vice Adm. Eliezer Marom, Israel's military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin and Air Forces Intelligence head Brig. Gen. Avishai Levi are facing trial in absentia for the raid of the Turkish Mavi Marmara flotilla.

An indictment prepared by prosecutor Mehmet Akif Ekinci in Istanbul last summer seeks nine aggravated life sentences for each of four top Israeli commanders.

"Mavi Marmara" ship was carrying aid materials to Gaza when it was stopped by Israeli troops in international waters. Israeli troops stormed the ship killing nine Turks.

A total of 490 people aboard the ship during the raid, including activists and journalists, are expected to give evidence. Normally barred from courtrooms, the trial will be officially recorded by television cameras, although proceedings are not expected to be broadcast.

A Turkish foreign ministry official declined comment, saying the incident was now a matter for the judiciary.

Ties between the two states began to unravel even before the Mavi Marmara raid after Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan stormed off a stage he was sharing with Shimon Peres at a World Economic Forum in 2009, saying the Israeli President well knew "how to kill Palestinian children", a reference to the December 2008-January 2009 Gaza offensive that killed up to 1500 Palestinians, mostly civilians.

Turkey has demanded a formal apology, compensation for victims and the families of the dead and for the Gaza blockade to be lifted.

Israel has voiced "regret", short of the full apology demanded, and has offered to pay into what it called a "humanitarian fund" through which casualties and relatives could be compensated.

IHH, the Turkish humanitarian agency which owns the Mavi Marmara, has said it expects the Turkish court to issue arrest warrants for the retired officers who would be obliged to be extradited to Turkey due to an extradition deal wtih Israel.

 

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