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Prosecutor: Turkey relinquished sovereign rights in Mavi Marmara case

A lawers of victims speaks to the press before the trial opening on December 9, 2016 outside the Istanbul courthouse as Turkish court is expected to rule in case of Israelis charged in absentia over a deadly commando raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship in 2010. Nine Turks died when Israeli marines stormed the "Mavi Marmara", which was part of an aid flotilla to break a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. One more died in hospital in 2014. Ties between Israel and Turkey crumbled after the raid but in June 2016 they finally agreed to end the bitter six-year row after months-long secret talks. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE

In the latest hearing of a trial involving an incident on the Mavi Marmara aid ship in which nine Turkish citizens were killed by Israeli forces in 2010, the prosecutor said that due to a deal struck with Israel, Turkey had waived its sovereign rights in the case.

Prosecutor Hüseyin Aslan said at the hearing in an İstanbul court on Friday that due to the deal signed between Turkey and Israel, there was no longer any legal basis for the plaintiffs to claim damages against Israel, saying that Turkey had relinquished its legal rights. The prosecutor called on the court to dismiss the case in which the victims of the Mavi Marmara flotilla are suing Israeli military officers for the attack against civilians who were attempting to deliver humanitarian aid to Palestine.

The flotilla was attacked in international waters on May 31, 2010, and nine Turkish citizens and an American citizen of Turkish descent were killed in the raid. The Mavi Marmara incident sparked a diplomatic crisis with Israel as then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan extensively used the issue as a political tool in domestic rallies. The two countries made a deal that was ratified by the Turkish Parliament in August 2016. The families of the victims were offered a total of $20 million, which was harshly criticized by the opposition in Turkey given how much Erdoğan has capitalized on the issue. The main opposition’s Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said the Turkish government had hidden the term “ex-gratia” in the agreement from the public since it does not mean compensation as portrayed by the government but rather a kind of bounty.

As the Mavi Marmara prosecutor renewed his call for dropping the case against Israel after a hearing in on Dec. 2, the families of the victims through their lawyers requested a change of judges.

Four Israeli officers, including former chief of staff Gaby Aschkenazi, former navy chief Eliezer Marom, former air force chief Amos Yadlin and the former head of air force intelligence Avishai Levi, are being tried in absentia in proceedings that began in İstanbul in 2012.


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