Turkey completes probe into 'Mavi Marmara' raid

Ankara set to push forward with legal proceedings against IDF soldiers involved in flotilla raid, Turkish justice minister says.

May 9, 2012 10:15
2 minute read.
Mavi Marmara

Mavi Marmara 311. (photo credit: Stringer Turkey / Reuters)


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Turkish prosecutors have completed their investigation into 2010’s raid on the Mavi Marmara blockade-runner, Today’s Zaman quoted Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin as saying on Tuesday.

Pro-Palestinian activists attacked Israel Navy commandos boarding the vessel, who in turn killed nine Turkish activists (one of them also had US citizenship).

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Turkish news reports claimed last year that intelligence agencies had compiled a list of 174 IDF soldiers who could be prosecuted for their involvement in the operation.

Today’s Zaman quoted Ergin as saying that once Turkey’s Justice Ministry receives the names of the soldiers involved in the raid from its Foreign Ministry, “we will send the indictments to the concerned courts.”

On February 8, 2011, the report of Israel’s Turkel Commission that examined the events surrounding the protest flotilla held that “the naval blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip... was legal pursuant to the rules of international law.”

Moreover, the “actions carried out by Israel on May 31, 2010, to enforce the naval blockade had the regrettable consequences of the loss of human life and physical injuries.

“Nonetheless, and despite the limited instances of uses of force for which we could not reach a conclusion, the actions taken were found to be legal pursuant to the rules of international law.”

In September, Turkey threatened to take Israel to the International Court of Justice in The Hague over the Marmara raid.

Senior IDF officials have said they are taking legal precautions to protect soldiers and officers who participated in the operation to stop the Mavi Marmara.

The IDF Military Advocate- General’s Office established a joint team with the Justice Ministry to study the UN-commissioned Palmer Report, released in September 2011, which justified Israel’s decision to impose a sea blockade on the Gaza Strip but also criticized the navy’s operation to stop the Gaza-bound flotilla.

The report said that “the loss of life and injuries resulting from the use of force by Israeli forces during the takeover of the Mavi Marmara was unacceptable.”

The team was studying the legal consequences of the report and possible ways to provide protections to IDF soldiers.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak had tried to broker a compromise with Turkey in an effort to minimize the legal exposure of the commandos.

A senior IDF officer said at the time that the Palmer Report could serve as the basis for criminal lawsuits against the commandos who boarded the ship as well as additional senior officers, including then-OC Navy V.-Adm. Eliezer Marom and then-chief of staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, for their role in the operation.

Both officers are already vulnerable to legal action due to their involvement in the Cast Lead offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip three years ago.

Yaakov Katz and Oren Kessler contributed to this report.

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