After several months of recess, the Gaza Flotilla trials have resumed on Thursday, February 21, for former IDF military commanders, including former chief of staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi, in an Istanbul court.
The focus was of the trial was the IDF’s alleged mistreatment of the passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara, and the military officials are charged with the deaths of nine Turkish citizens who were aboard the 2010 flotilla, in addition to several other crimes. The indictment is seeking multiple life sentences for each of the defendants, and the list of charges includes “inciting murder through cruelty or torture,” and “inciting injury with firearms.
Initially, Turkish prosecutors keyed in on the murder accusations, while later focusing on the alleged mistreatment of the flotilla’s passengers, including physical harm short of death, sexual harassment and theft.
According to published sources, the first witness was a crew member of the Mavi Marmara, who said the IDF committed an inhumane physical attack that led to permanent health issues. He also said he was forced to enter Israel at gun point, was cross-examined for countless ours and treated like a “terrorist.”
Later in the day, the Marmara’s captain took the witness stand and said: “I was handcuffed for 16 hours after they took over the deck.”
Meanwhile, no Israeli officials were actually present at the trail to make objections or cross-examine the witnesses, and Israel continues to dismiss the case as “political theater,” claiming the former military officials had not so much as been notified of the charges.
While the Turkish media reports that the Istanbul Bar Association had arranged for lawyers to defend the accused parties, no information were dispensed on their identities, or particular actions they took in court of behalf of the defendants.