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Turkey to try Israeli officers in absentia in Mavi Marmara case

Four Israeli officers are being tried for their alleged responsibility in the deaths of Turkish nationals killed by Israeli commandos in the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident • Prosecution asks for a total of 18,000 years in prison for defendants.

Dan Lavie and Reuters

Israeli commandos boarding the Mavi Marmara in May 2010.
Photo credit: AP

A trial of four senior Israeli officers alleged to be responsible for the 2010 Israeli commando raid on a Gaa-bound ship in which nine Turkish nationals were killed was set to begin in Turkey on Tuesday.

The trial, to be held in Istanbul without the four defendants, will further test relations between the one-time strategic allies and has been dismissed by Israel as a "show trial" and "political theater."

Israel and NATO member Turkey, which both border Syria, once shared intelligence information and conducted joint military exercises, cooperation that has been canceled since the incident.

The deaths occurred in May 2010, when an international flotilla sought to breach the Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. Israeli commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara and were assaulted. In the ensuing conflict, nine Turkish nationals were killed and a number of Israeli soldiers were wounded.

Turkey indicted four Israel Defense Forces officers who held senior positions at the time of the raid: then Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi, then Navy Commander Vice Admiral (res.) Eliezer Marom, then Military Intelligence head Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin and then Air Force Intelligence head Brig. Gen. Avishai Levy.

In a 144-page document, the prosecution asks for a total of 18,000 years in prison for the defendants for what it describes as crimes such as "inciting murder through cruelty or torture" and "inciting injury with firearms."

A total of 490 people who were on the ship during the raid, including activists and journalists, are expected to give evidence. Normally barred from courtrooms, the trial will be officially recorded by television cameras, although proceedings are not expected to be broadcast.

"The 'Blue Marmara Trial' due to commence on Nov. 6 in Istanbul clearly falls under the category of a show trial; an act which has nothing to do with either law or justice," Israel's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "This ‘trial’ does not qualify under any facet or foundation of a lawful judicial system, and is merely a propaganda display. It would be in Turkey's interest to deal with this issue through bilateral dialogue."

A Turkish Foreign Ministry official declined comment, saying the incident was now a matter for the judiciary.

File it under who cares.

What effect will it have on these men?


So who cares.