'Families of Marmara victims won't drop charges'

Relatives oppose stance that agreement with Israel will waive suits, Turkish newspaper 'Zaman' reports.

Mavi Marmara 311 (photo credit: Stringer Turkey / Reuters)
Mavi Marmara 311
(photo credit: Stringer Turkey / Reuters)
The families of the nine Turks killed on the Mavi Marmara will pursue legal action against Israel in the European Court of Human Rights should Turkey agree in the framework of an Israeli-Turkish reconciliation agreement to drop its criminal suit against top IDF officers, Turkey’s Sunday’s Zaman reported on its website on Sunday.
National Security Council head Yaakov Amidror said in China last week – two days after a second round with his Turkish interlocutors on a compensation package for the families of those killed on the ship trying to breach the blockade of Gaza – that the sides would likely arrive at an agreement soon, and that such an agreement would be followed soon after by an exchange of ambassadors.
Israel is insisting that its apology for the Mavi Marmara incident and the compensation payments will put an end in Turkey to all legal proceed- ings against IDF soldiers or officers.
In November, Turkey put on trial in absentia former chief of general staff Lt.-Gen (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi, former OC Navy V.-Adm. (res.) Eliezer Marom, former military intelligence head Maj.-Gen.
(res.) Amos Yadlin and former Air Force intelligence chief Brig.-Gen. (res.) Avishai Levy. Israel dismissed the trials as a “political show.”
Cihat Gokdemir, a lawyer in the trial, told Sunday’s Zaman that “The lawsuits filed against Israeli soldiers are human rights cases and no international agreement would supersede them. This is what we think, and this is what the European Court of Human rights would think as well.”
One Israeli official said that Jerusalem was not overly worried about this scenario, since there is a general understanding that without the Turkish government standing behind a petition to international courts, any such bid is unlikely to get very far. Furthermore, the official said, a UN panel that looked into the incident ruled that Israel was within its rights in preventing ships from breaking the Gaza blockade.
Sunday’s Zaman quoted Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc as saying that if a bilateral agreement is reached, the families of the victims “will be required to waive their lawsuits, otherwise they will not receive any compensation.”
While a third round of talks is expected to finalize a compensation agreement, no date for those talks has yet been set.
Once an agreement is reached, the Turkish paper reported, it will have to go to Turkey’s parliament for approval.