The first hearing of the trial concerning an Israeli attack on the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla and Mavi Marmara ship will be held at an İstanbul court on Nov.6. IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, which is one of the organizers of the Freedom Flotilla, is carrying out significant work to bring this case to the world’s attention. Hundreds of lawyers will seek co-plaintiff status at the trial.
The suspects of the trial include former Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of General Staff Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, Naval Forces commander Vice Adm. Eliezer Marom, Israel's military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin and Air Forces Intelligence head Brig. Gen. Avishai Levi. They will be tried as “fugitive suspects.” There are 490 complainants and victims in the case including flotilla passengers from 37 countries and relatives of the martyrs.
The first hearing of the Mavi Marmara trial will begin at Çağlayan Courthouse at 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 6 and it will continue for three days with breaks. Flotilla passengers from Turkey and other parts of the world, relatives of the Mavi Marmara martyrs and their lawyers will be in attendance at the trial. The trial will be closely followed by human rights observers from Turkey and abroad, media members, jurists and representatives of non-governmental organizations.
Mavi Marmara lawyers, IHH and other relief organizations which are among the organizers of the Freedom Flotilla which was carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, are carrying out extensive work ahead of the first hearing of the case.
Common case of the humanity: Mavi Marmara
IHH defines the Mavi Marmara case as the common case of the family of the humanity which has diverse religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds just like the colorful group that met onboard the Mavi Marmara. IHH is also making efforts to ensure that hundreds of lawyers are granted co-plaintiff case in the trial.
A call made by the IHH says: “The crime committed onboard the Mavi Marmara was not only committed against the passengers of the ship but against the common conscience of the world, against all the people with a conscience who were represented on the ship. Israeli commanders violated the rights of the entire humanity. In line with the principles of justice, the responsible parties of the attack should be given a fair trial before the eyes of the world and they should be punished accordingly. So, we think it is very important for the media to follow the Mavi Marmara trial, the common case of the humanity, and give extensive coverage to it in order to bring it to Turkey’s and the world’s agenda. We ask for the support of our people to the ship’s passengers who will come from 37 countries for the trial on behalf of Cevdet Kılıçlar, a journalist who was killed in the attack, other humanitarian aid volunteers and activist Uğur Süleyman Söylemez who has been in a coma for 2,5 years after he was heavily injured in the Israeli attack.”
Mavi Marmara attack and judicial process
Israeli armed forces carried out an attack against Mavi Marmara, which was carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, and other ships in the Freedom Flotilla as the flotilla was travelling in the international waters on 31 May, 2010. Nine humanitarian activists Furkan Doğan, Cevdet Kılıçlar, İbrahim Bilgen, Necdet Yıldırım, Fahri Yaldız, Ali Haydar Bengi, Cengiz Akyüz, Çetin Topçuoğlu, Cengiz Songür and journalist Cevdet Kılıçlar were killed in the attack while more than 50 passengers were injured. Israel illegally violated the passengers’ right to communicate and the passengers were illegally jailed by the country.
United Nations Human Rights Council condemned the Israeli attack and found out after an investigation that Israel violated human rights and international law by committing the crimes of wilful killing; torture or inhuman treatment; wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, arbitrary detention and arrest, violation of the freedom of expression, illegal seizure of personal items etc. Judicial efforts have been carried out concerning the Israeli attack in the national level (in countries such as Turkey, US, Spain, Belgium and Italy) and in the international level (by institutions such as International Court of Justice, UN Human Rights Commission etc.)
A case was filed at the İstanbul 7th High Criminal Court on May 28, 2012 against Israeli commanders who took part in the Mavi Marmara attack after an investigation by İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. The prosecutor who was overseeing the investigation into the Mavi Marmara attack filed charges only against top Israeli commanders who planned and carried out the operation being mainly Ashkenazi. As the investigation proceeds, other civilians and military officers who are involved in the attack will be brought to trial one by one. According to Turkish Penal Code, the suspects face charges of voluntary manslaughter, attempted murder, intentional injury, masterminding of murder by the use of weapons, qualified robbery, seizing a sea vehicle by the use of force, causing damage to property, illegal deprivation of freedom and masterminding torture.