Lawyers for Turkish victims on aid flotilla appeal to ICC

Israeli commandos in May stormed Gaza-bound flotilla of humanitarian ships.

Ankara: Lawyers representing the Turkish victims of Israel`s deadly storming of a Gaza-bound flotilla in May have called on the International Criminal Court to punish those responsible, the news agency Cihan reported on Sunday.

The agency quotes Ramazan Ariturk, one of the lawyers for the nine Turkish victims, as saying that a letter had been sent to the ICC prosecutor in The Hague, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, containing "damning evidence implicating the Israeli aggressors”.

On May 31, Israeli commandos stormed a flotilla of six humanitarian ships on their way to Gaza. Nine Turkish activists were killed on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, sparking international condemnation.

The ICC is competent to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity and genocide. It can charge an individual if crimes were committed on territory of a state which is a member of the court, or if the individual is a national of one of its member states.

Israel does not recognise the ICC.

"There is sufficient proof for proceedings to be taken against Israel. Many international jurists also think so," Ariturk told the agency.

He said the court had jurisdiction because the Mavi Marmara was flying the flag of ICC-member the Comoros Islands.

Lawyers and relatives of the victims are planning to go to The Hague on Thursday to formally lodge a complaint with the ICC, the non-government Islamist organisation IHH, which co-sponsored the expedition to Gaza, said on its website.

The United Nations Human Rights Council last month agreed to back a report which found "clear evidence" for legal action against Israel over the attack on the flotilla.

The enquiry said Israel broke international humanitarian and human rights law, and found "clear evidence to support prosecutions" for crimes including "wilful killing; torture or inhuman treatment; wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health”.

Israel had rejected the probe from the outset, but it is backing another separate enquiry set up by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the incident, and is conducting its own enquiry.