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POLITICS >Turkey tries former top Israeli soldiers in absentia

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Protestors shout slogans against Israel as they hold Palestinian flags in front of the court during a demonstration for supporting the trial against Israel, in Istanbul, Turkey, 06 November 2012. EPA Photo

Protestors shout slogans against Israel as they hold Palestinian flags in front of the court during a demonstration for supporting the trial against Israel, in Istanbul, Turkey, 06 November 2012. EPA Photo

    Erdem GüneşErdem Güneşerdem.gunes@hdn.com.tr

    An Istanbul court has begun hearing a major trial today 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.

    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. “I demand that this massacre is punished,” his father said.

    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.

    November/06/2012

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