Istanbul's Seventh High Criminal Court released arrest warrants Monday to four senior Israeli officers over their role in the 2010 raid of a Turkish-flagged Gaza-bound aid flotilla.
The court also asked Interpol to release international arrest warrants against the four, who include former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, former Navy Chief Eliezer Marom, former Military Intelligence Chief Amos Yadlin and former Naval Intelligence chief Avishai Levy.
The court's ruling claimed that the warrants were necessary for the legal proceedings because the defendants failed to appear at hearings and hadn't responded to summons sent by the Turkish Ministry of Justice. Turkey's Foreign Ministry said in response that its legal advisors would study the ruling.
If any of the four former officers enter Turkey, they will be arrested. Likewise, the Turkish government can request the extradition of any of the officials should they enter a country with an extradition agreement.
Should Interpol respond to the Turkish request and publicize the international arrest warrants, the officers will be under threat of arrest in all countries that are Interpol members. Interpol is under no obligation to respond.
The Turkish prosecutors, representing 33 relatives of the nine victims of the deadly raid on the Mavi Marmara, have requested a life sentence from each of the Israeli officers who were tried in absentia.
The complaint in question was submitted in May 2012, and the first hearing was held in November of that year. The legal proceedings have been taking place over the last year and a half on the backdrop of reconciliation contacts between Israel and Turkey.
Part of the reconciliation agreement includes a Turkish commitment to pass a law in parliament that nullifies all legal complaints against Israeli officers and soldiers involved in the Gaza flotilla operation.
Although Israel and Turkey have already composed a draft agreement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not signed on nor is he bringing it to a vote in the political-security cabinet.
Within the framework of the draft agreement, Israel agreed to pay $20 million in compensation to the families of the victims; in exchange, the Turkish government would drop all legal claims.
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