7 Nov 2012

Israelis being tried in absentia in Turkey

1:12 pm on 7 November 2012

A court in Istanbul has begun a trial in absentia of four ex-Israeli military commanders over a deadly raid on a Turkish boat as it tried to break the blockade of Gaza in 2010.

Nine Turks died after Israeli commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara. Seven commandos were also wounded.

The BBC reports the incident led to a major rift in relations between Turkey and Israel.

The case is being heard by four judges. If the accused are convicted, the court could issue a warrant for their arrest.

The Mavi Marmara was carrying 600 pro-Palestinian campaigners towards the coast of Gaza when it was intercepted by the Israeli navy in international waters in May 2010.

Israel insists that its commandos acted in self-defence after they came under attack by Turks on the boat. It has expressed regret for the loss of lives.

The accused are: former Israel army chief of staff General Gabi Ashkenazi, ex-naval chief Vice Admiral Eliezer Marom, former head of military intelligence Major General Amos Yadlin, and former air force head Brigadier General Avishai Lev.

The BBC reports nearly 500 people who were on board the ship during the raid, are expected to give evidence.