Families outraged as Turkish court dismisses Mavi Marmara case against Israel

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Lawyers and families hold pictures of victims and shout slogans on December 9, 2016 outside the Istanbul courthouse as Turkish court is expected to rule in the 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. OZAN KOSE / AFP

The families of victims of the Mavi Marmara aid flotilla were outraged after İstanbul’s 7th High Criminal Court on Friday dismissed a case against Israeli officers blamed for a raid on the flotilla that killed 10 people in 2010.

The prosecutor of the case recently approached the court saying that the case must be dismissed due to a deal signed between Turkey and Israel for the normalization of relations that had become strained following the raid in 2010.

The two countries made a deal that was ratified by the Turkish Parliament in August 2016. The families of the victims were offered compensation in the amount of $20 million, which was harshly criticized by the opposition in Turkey given how much President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has capitalized on the issue.

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 Erdoğan used the issue extensively as a political tool in domestic rallies.

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.

As the Mavi Marmara prosecutor renewed his call for dropping the case against Israel in Friday’s hearing, 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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