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Court seeks life for Israeli troops over flotilla deaths

A Turkish court has approved an indictment seeking multiple life sentences for four former Israeli military commanders over their alleged involvement in the 2010 killing of nine Turks on a Gaza-bound aid ship, state media reported.

The indictment, prepared by Istanbul state prosecutor Mehmet Akif Ekinci, was submitted to the court last week and its approval marks the start of a trial in absentia against the men.

Relations between Turkey and Israel deteriorated sharply after Israeli commandos raided the Mavi Marmara aid vessel in May 2010 to enforce a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador and froze all military cooperation after a UN report into the incident released last September largely exonerated the Jewish state.

Irish activist Dr Fintan Lane was one of three Irish people wrestled from the aid vessels by the Israelis.

The indictment accuses Israel’s former chief of general staff Gabi Ashkenazi and three other retired senior military commanders of involvement in the raid and calls for between 8,000 and 18,000 life sentences for each of the men, state news agency Anatolian said.

The Israeli military has not commented on the indictment.

Last week, a Turkish lawyer representing victims of the raid said Israel had offered to pay $6m in compensation in turn for lawsuits to be dropped.

However, a senior Israeli official who declined to be named said Israel, having indicated last year it was prepared to indemnify victims without accepting blame, had not renewed its offer.


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