Turkey begins trial of ex-Israeli military chiefs

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ANKARA – Thousands of anti-Israeli protesters have gathered outside an Istanbul court, where four Israeli ex-military chiefs are being tried in absentia over a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish ship in 2010.

The trial started in Istanbul’s Seventh High Criminal Court on Tuesday. 

At least nine Turkish activists were killed after Israeli commandos attacked Mavi Marmara in international waters in May 2010. The incident led to a major rift in Ankara-Tel Aviv relations. 

The IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, which had commissioned Mavi Marmara, and families of the victims are among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. 

The court will hear testimony from those who were aboard the aid flotilla and a total of 490 people, including activists and journalists, are expected to give evidence. 

If the four, including Israel’s former Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, are convicted, the court could issue a warrant for their arrest. Israel, however, has called the trial a “unilateral political act with no judicial credibility”. 

indictment prepared by a state prosecutor seeks multiple life sentences for the now retired Israeli officers. 

Israel, get out of Palestine!” the crowd chanted as others held up a banner with the words: “What is the difference? Hitler = Israel” , your end is near”, “Down with Israel”, “The revenge of our martyrs will be bitter,” read a banner outside the courthouse.

We want nothing more than for those who are responsible to be punished. We want them to be brought to account for the violation of Palestinian people’s rights,” Reuters quoted Ummugulsum Yazici, one of the protesters, as saying. 

Turkey has demanded an official apology from the Israeli regime for the deadly attack on the flotilla, compensation to the families of the victims and an end to the blockade of Gaza as preconditions for the normalization of the mutual relations, demands that Tel Aviv has so far refused to fulfill.

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