Turkey tries Israeli commanders in absentia

A Turkish court began a trial in absentia for four Israeli military commanders responsible for the boarding of the Mavi Marmara ship in 2010.

The court case opened Nov. 6 in Istanbul. The charges reportedly include manslaughter and attempted manslaughter, causing bodily harm, deprivation of freedom, plundering, damage to property and illegal confiscation of property.

The Israelis could be sentenced in absentia to life in prison.

Nine Turkish citizens died after Israeli navy commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara, which claimed to be carrying humanitarian aid, on May 31, 2010 after warning the ship not to sail into waters near the Gaza Strip in circumvention of Israel’s naval blockade of the coastal strip.

Israel’s government-appointed Turkel Commission found in its investigation that the government and the military behaved appropriately; the United Nations’ Palmer Committee said Israel used excessive force while boarding the vessel.

Ankara has called on Israel for an official apology and compensation for the incident, and to lift the Gaza blockade. The two countries have severed diplomatic relations and military agreements since the incident. — jta