An indictment prepared by an İstanbul prosecutor seeks 10 aggravated life imprisonment sentences for each of the four Israeli top commanders, including the country's chief of General Staff, involved in a 2010 Israeli attack on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that left nine Turks dead, a Turkish daily reported on Wednesday.
The details of the indictment come days before the second anniversary of the deadly Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara on May 31, 2010. The Sabah daily reported on Wednesday that the indictment was prepared by İstanbul Specially Authorized Prosecutor Mehmet Akif Ekinci against the Israeli soldiers and officers who carried out the raid and ordered it.
The daily added that the 144-page indictment mentions 10 “slain Turks,” including Süleyman Söylemez, who was among those injured in the raid and who is still in a vegetative state. The document also mentions 490 victims and complainants, including 189 people who were injured in the attacks.
The indictment reportedly seeks 10 aggravated life imprisonment sentences for 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.
The prosecutor reportedly heard the testimonies of nearly 600 witnesses, which included passengers aboard the ship and the relatives of victims as part of the investigation.
Sabah said the indictment had been submitted to İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor Turan Çolakkadı, who will either approve or reject a request to submit it to a relevant court. The indictment is likely to further strain ties between the two regional powers, which have already deteriorated sharply since the deadly raid in 2010.
Eight Turkish nationals and one Turkish American were killed when the Israeli Navy attacked an international aid flotilla trying to break an Israeli blockade of Gaza in May 2010. Following the attack, Israel's government set up the Turkel Commission, a commission of inquiry headed by Israeli Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel, to investigate the attack. Turkish leaders dismissed the Israeli investigation, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon repeated the demand for an independent investigation, stating that the Israeli investigation would not have international credibility.
Turkey also established an inquiry, which concluded, in contrast to the Israeli inquiry, that the Gaza blockade and the Israeli raid are illegal. After the Turkish inquiry, Turkey described the raid as a violation of international law “tantamount to banditry and piracy” and described the killings of activists as “state-sponsored terrorism.” Concerning the Israeli inquiry, Turkey said its own commission was “surprised, appalled and dismayed that the national inquiry process in Israel has resulted in the exoneration of the Israeli armed forces.”
Ankara wants an official apology from Israel for the raid and calls for the lifting of the Gaza blockade but both demands have been rejected by the Israeli government so far. With tensions increased, Turkey has expelled the Israeli ambassador and suspended military agreements it had with the country.
In New York, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu declined to comment on the development, noting that the submission of the indictment to the court is part of the judicial process. But he underlined that it is Turkey’s duty to protect the rights of its citizens at both the national and international level. He added that the judicial process should be considered part of this duty.
Davutoğlu told TRT Haber TV from New York on Wednesday that he spoken with Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin on this issue and had been briefed by him. The Turkish foreign minister added that the Turkish government will support Turkish nationals whenever and wherever they seek legal regress. Davutoğlu reiterated Turkey’s demands from Israel and said Turkey won’t back down from its position until Israel meets Turkey’s requests.