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ICC opens preliminary examination of 2010 Israel flotilla raid

The chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court [official website] said Tuesday that her office will conduct a preliminary examination into the 2010 Israeli raid [JURIST news archive] on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza strip in which nine civilians on a Turkish ship were killed. The examination is in response to authorities from the Union of Comoros, who requested [referral, PDF] that ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda initiate an investigation into the alleged crimes which arose from the raid, pursuant to Articles 12, 13 and 14 of the Rome Statute [text]. The referral states that Comoros has an interest in the matter because the majority of the crimes took place on board a vessel registered to the nation and within its territorial jurisdiction. The referral claims that two issues require attention, including "the nexus between the attack on the flotilla and the Palestinian/Israeli conflict" and "the unlawfulness of the blockade of Gaza." Bensouda said that the preliminary examination will determine whether the criteria for opening an investigation are met.

In November, a Turkish court opened a trial in absentia [JURIST report] for former Israeli military commanders accused of killing nine Turkish citizens during the 2010 raid. The Turkish judge began the proceedings with testimony from people who were on board the flotilla, as well as from relatives of the deceased. Prosecutors have demanded life in prison for the Israeli commanders involved in the May 2010 raid to enforce a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. The case illustrates tension between Turkey and Israel, which have previously maintained close diplomatic ties. Israel has criticized the trial of the four Israeli commanders, dismissing the proceedings as politically motivated. Hundreds of protestors showed up outside the courthouse to voice their opposition to the actions of these commanders. Turkey has demanded an end to the Gaza blockade, a formal apology and compensation for the victims and their family.

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