Turkey prosecutor calls to drop Gaza flotilla case against Israelis
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Turkey prosecutor calls to drop Gaza flotilla case against Israelis

Istanbul court told charges against ex-defense officials should be abandoned due to recent reconciliation agreement

Footage taken from the 'Mavi Marmara' security cameras showing activists preparing to attack IDF soldiers, May 2010. (IDF Spokesperson/Flash90)
Footage taken from the 'Mavi Marmara' security cameras showing activists preparing to attack IDF soldiers, May 2010. (IDF Spokesperson/Flash90)

ISTANBUL, Turkey — A Turkish prosecutor called Friday for charges related to a deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound ship to be dropped following diplomatic reconciliation between Turkey and Israel, state media reported.

Nine Turkish activists were killed by Israeli commandos who were attacked when they boarded the Mavi Marmara as it tried to breach the maritime blockade on the Gaza Strip in May 2010, and a 10th died in hospital in 2014.

The raid exacerbated an already frosty relationship, with both countries withdrawing their respective ambassadors from the country capitals, though diplomatic ties were never fully severed.

The bitter rift came to an end in June this year after they held long-running secret talks in third countries with Israel offering an apology over the raid and $20 million in compensation.

Israel also agreed to allow Turkish aid to reach Gaza as part of the agreement.

Shani Cooper, diplomatic attaché to the Israeli mission in Ankara, shakes hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a reception in the Turkish capital on August 30, 2016. (Courtesy of the Turkish presidency)
Shani Cooper, diplomatic attaché to the Israeli mission in Ankara, shakes hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a reception in the Turkish capital on August 30, 2016. (Courtesy of the Turkish presidency)

Under the terms of the deal, both sides also agreed individual Israeli citizens or those acting on behalf of the Israeli government would not be held liable — either criminally or financially — for the raid.

On Friday the prosecutor told an Istanbul court that the case against the Israeli individuals should be dropped because of the agreement, state-run news agency Anadolu said.

Prosecutors had been seeking life sentences for the alleged involvement of former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, former navy chief Eliezer Marom, former military intelligence head Amos Yadlin and former Air Force intelligence chief Avishai Levy, who went on trial in absentia in 2012.

The demand is likely to anger families and lawyers, who told AFP in October they had no intention of dropping the lawsuits despite the deal.

Israel's ambassador to Turkey Eitan Na'eh, whose appointment was announced on November 15, 2016. (courtesy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Israel’s ambassador to Turkey Eitan Na’eh, whose appointment was announced on November 15, 2016. (courtesy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

One of the final key elements of returning to normal relations was the exchange of ambassadors, which will formally take place this month.

Israel’s envoy Eitan Na’eh arrived in Ankara on Thursday, and he is due to present his letter of credence to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan within days.

Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim’s policy advisor Kemal Okem will start work as Turkey’s ambassador to Israel on December 12, Anadolu said Friday.

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