In the aftermath of the attack staged by Israel on the Mavi Marmara ship and the Gaza Freedom Flotilla on May 31 2010, victims from 37 countries were still looking for justice, making their case on different legal platforms. An application was made to the ICC on behalf of Comoros, the flag state of Mavi Marmara, on May 14 2013. Following the application, a litigation process had been launched against Israeli political and military offenders on behalf of Comoros, Cambodia and Greece.
In its decision on November 6 2014, the ICC’s Public Prosecutor's Office found that Israeli soldiers committed war crimes on May 31 2010 because “they deliberately killed, intentionally injured and violated human dignity” by attacking Mavi Marmara and other ships. However, it decided not to pursue any further investigations as the attack lacked the intensity and gravity to do so.
Lawyers of the Mavi Marmara victims objected to this decision, and the preliminary review office decided on November 15 2018 that the prosecution's decision was wrong and should be reconsidered. The ICC’s Public Prosecutor's Office filed an appeal against this decision of the Court's Preliminary Review Office and applied to the High Court for a reconsideration of the verdict. The High Court dismissed the public prosecutor's office’s appeal. On May 1 2019, a procedural hearing was held in which the attorneys of the victims and the objections of the Public Prosecutor's Office were heard. At this hearing, the Supreme Court judges ruled that the Public Prosecutor's Office should carry forward with the investigation and accordingly set a deadline of December 2 2019 for the prosecution to announce its final decision.
On December 2 2019, the Public Prosecutor's Office decided not to open the investigation without citing any new reasons and without addressing the shortcomings of the investigation, despite the judges’ ruling of the ICC’s Review Office and the High Court for the investigation to be re-launched.
The case is the same as other Palestinian cases pending decision by the ICC Prosecutor's Office, which willfully refuses to open the investigations. With the decision, the intent is to safeguard Israel - so blatantly and flagrantly right under the international community’s nose - against any indictments of war crimes. On the other hand, the judges of the ICC still leave room for hope with their criticisms of the prosecutor's approach to the case and publishing statements that are aligned with the ICC’s fundamental values. As the High Court already ruled at the procedural hearing, the Court has the jurisdiction to decide whether to open an investigation if the prosecutor does not.
Lawyers of the victims will appeal the prosecutor's decision. We expect the High Court to accept our appeal and initiate the investigation by overturning the prosecutor's decision. The International Criminal Court (ICC) must fulfill its function of serving justice and the international law and stay true to its fundamental roots.
As Montaigne said “Laws are like a spider web; the big flies rip through it while the small ones get stuck in it”, a system that judges only Third World countries and favors sovereign powers would lead the ICC to self-denial itself and undermine the sense of international justice.
It is not possible to cover up war crimes and crimes against humanity that occurred right under the nose of the international community, which cost precious civilian lives whose only intent was to provide humanitarian relief. Justice can only be served by launching the investigation as soon as possible and bringing the perpetrators to justice. Since the prosecutor of the ICC cannot cover up these crimes in any way, she hides behind procedural excuses. We believe that the judges of the ICC will not remain indifferent to this call for justice and initiate a trial process for the punishment of all unjust actions taking place in Palestine. All necessary appeals will be made and the on-going process with the ICC will be followed.
Respectfully brought to the public’s notice.
Lawyers of the Victims of Mavi Marmara