Turkey to Demand Extradition, Life Terms for Former IDF Officials

Article Summary
Prosecutors in Ankara are demanding nine life sentences for former Chief of Staff Ashkenazi and retired generals for their involvement in the Marmara event. Eli Bardenstein, Hanan Greenberg and Ahikam Moshe David report that for the moment, Israeli international law experts hold that the former army officials have no reason for concern. 

A new low in relations between Turkey and Israel: The prosecution in Ankara is demanding nine life sentences for the four Israeli military figures involved in the Marmara case.

Ma’ariv was informed that businessman Jacque Kimchi, an emissary of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, met with Israeli President Shimon Peres in order to promote an Israeli apology

“Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan is conducting a ‘targeted killing’ of [Turkey’s] relationship with Israel.” That is how Jerusalem officials described the verdict of the Turkish court to ratify a bill of indictment in Ankara against four former Israeli military figures for their part in the events that transpired on the deck of the Marmara ship two years ago [May 2012]. Simultaneously, Turkey announced its intentions to issue international extradition warrants for the arrest of the four. This would allow them to ask countries visited by the four figures to arrest and extradite them to Turkey.

In the meantime it became known that the Jewish-Turkish businessman Jacque Kimchi, visited Israel last week and met secretly with a number of high-placed officials, including President Peres. The prime minister's office would not confirm or deny that Kimchi met with the prime minister and/or the president’s office. Sources involved in the visit reported that it was coordinated with the office of the Turkish prime minister and that the Turkish government has used Kimchi in the past to transmit messages. In his meetings with Israeli officials, Kimchi urged them to apologize to Turkey for the killing of nine Turkish citizens and to grant compensation to the families.

The indictment against the four military figures holds them responsible for “horrible slaughter and torture” of the activists of the Turkish-Islamist organization IHH on the Marmara. The four figures are former chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, former military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, former naval forces commander Vice Adm. Eliezer (‘Chaney’) Marom and the former head of air force intelligence, Brig. Gen. Avishai Levy. According to the Turkish version of the events, the Israeli soldiers opened fire with the intention to kill, and some shot the activists at close range and even at their backs. The prosecution is seeking nine life terms for each of the four high-ranking officers — eight for the people killed in the raid and the ninth for an additional activist who has been in a coma since the event.

The Turkish legal document that was ratified three days before the second anniversary of the raid, ignores evidence of live ammunition held by the travelers of the ship and rejects the Israeli version that the soldiers acted out of self-defense. According to their version, the Israelis were attacked at most with sticks, forks and spoons. In addition to the indictments of the four officials, the Turkish judges authorized indictments against a number of other Israeli fighters involved in the Marmara incident for manslaughter, attempted murder and causing damage to the ship. These soldiers remain anonymous, as Israel has ignored Turkish requests to hand over their names.

The four officers refrained from responding to the indictments filed against them, except for Ashkenazi, who issued a official note. In a private conversation, one of them said he is convinced he did the right thing. “If not for the resolve of the fighters, there could have been a bloodbath there,” he added. Ashkenazi’s response was, “Turkey is an important country, and shares common interests with Israel in stabilizing the Middle East. I am sure that at the end of the day, common sense will prevail.”

An IDF spokesman responded, “The IDF is following the statements made in Turkey regarding legal proceedings on the subject of the flotilla event. If there is truth to the statements, it seems that the proceedings are affected by the political atmosphere and thus contradict the conclusions reached by Israeli and international teams that investigated the incident.” 

Found in: yadlin, turkey, peres, merom, marmara, life sentences, kimhi, israel, general, extradition order, chief of staff, ashkenazi, army, apology

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