A criminal court in Istanbul is due to begin the hearing of 490 witnesses from 37 countries in the case against Israeli officials responsible for the murderous attack on the Mavi Marmara. Nine Turkish citizens were killed by Israeli commandos during the assault in May 2010. According to Turkish newspaper Sabah, the court will also hear the testimony of Haneen Zoabi, an Arab member of the Israeli parliament.
Israel's former Chief of the General Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, the Air Force Chief, the Director of Israeli Intelligence and the Commander of the Israeli Navy are all charged with the offences committed during the assault on the Turkish flagged vessel which was part of a humanitarian convoy to the Gaza Strip when it was attacked in international waters. The indictments include attempted murder, causing physical damage, confiscation of the freedom of individuals and causing damage to the property of others. The prosecution has demanded the jailing of those accused in this case for terms ranging from 9 to 32 years.
Hussein Ouchar, representing IHH, the Turkish relief agency responsible for organising the convoy, told Sabah that the NGO will be submitting the UN Report into the attack as part of their evidence. "The UN Report emphasises Israel's use of excessive force," said Ouchar. "In addition, the forensic report confirms that the cause of death was live bullets fired from very close range and that Israel washed the dead bodies with unusual chemicals."