ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
An Istanbul court begins trying top Israeli commanders in absentia for an attack on the Mavi Marmara aid flotilla to Gaza that killed nine Turks
A hearing, in which top Israeli soldiers are tried, starts in Istanbul with statements from the families of the killed activists on a Gaza-bound aid ship. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL
An Istanbul court began hearing a major trial yesterday against former Israeli soldiers, in which they are held responsible for the deaths of nine Turkish citizens in a 2010 raid against the Mavi Marmara flotilla that tried to break an Israeli blockade into Gaza.
Former Chief of Staff Gaby Ashkenazi, former Navy Chief Eliezer Marom, former Military Intelligence Head Amos Yadlin and former Air Force Intelligence Chief Avishai Levy are all being tried in absentia.
The hearing started with statements from the families of the killed activists as well as some of the surviving activists. The case includes citizens from 37 countries. According to the indictment, 450 people are asking for compensation from four former Israeli generals. Complainants
Many complainants from Western countries also attended the first hearing of the case.
Mary Ann Wright, 65, a former United States Army colonel and retired official of the U.S. State Department, said she was on board the flotilla Challenger 1, which was traveling alongside the Mavi Marmara.
“Two choppers were approaching the Mavi Marmara and there were six ships and we could see many on the horizon,” she said. According to Wright, both ships were attacked by Israeli commandos despite being unarmed and obviously peaceful.
Ahmet Doğan, father of 19-year-old Furkan Doğan who was among the killed activists, said his son was the youngest on board and had no other intention but to help the people in Gaza.
“I saw my son’s dead body, Israeli soldiers shot him in the face,” he said. Furkan had taken his university exam before leaving Turkey and they thought he was going to return safely from the trip.
Humanitarian Aid Foundation (İHH) head Bülent Yıldırım was also present in the courtroom. The İHH, which organized the ship’s journey, placed two giant balloons near the Çağlayan courtroom with the words “Israel is being tried,” written on them.
Israeli forces killed nine Turkish activists aboard the Mavi Marmara aid flotilla on May 31, 2010. Turkey has repeatedly demanded that Israel
issue an apology and pay compensation for the deaths.The Turkish hearing is currently ongoing, though the case does not feature any of the alleged primary assailants.
The Istanbul Bar Association appointed two lawyers to defend suspects since they did not respond to legal call of the court to defend themselves in Istanbul.
Georges Henri Beauthier, a lawyer for the four Belgian citizen who were on the flotilla, said the case was very important since it was paving the legal base for further international steps.
“When the case is over, INTERPOL can list suspects as wanted,” Beauthier said.