ICC judges reject prosecutor’s appeal on Marmara raid

November 6, 2015  

Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Friday reiterated that the court’s prosecutor has to reconsider her decision not to investigate the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

The decision means Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda will now have to look at the case again and decide whether to open a full investigation, which could potentially lead to charges against Israelis involved in the storming, noted the report.

The Mavi Marmara, which was violating Israel’s naval blockade on Gaza, took part in a flotilla by activists who claimed they were carrying “humanitarian aid” for Gaza. The ship defied orders to turn around and dock at the Ashdod port. After it ignored repeated warnings to change course, the IDF boarded the vessel – only to be attacked by Islamist extremists on board.

The soldiers had no choice but to open fire, resulting in the deaths of nine on board. After an investigation, Israeli authorities discovered the vessel to be carrying no humanitarian aid – in fact, no aid supplies at all – whatsoever. 

Bensouda has already declined a request by the Indian Ocean island nation Comoros to investigate the May 31, 2010, storming of the Marmara, which was sailing under a Comoros flag.

Judges first asked her to reconsider in July, saying she made “material errors in her determination of the gravity” of the case.

Bensouda appealed the decision, but her appeal was dismissed Friday by a 3-2 majority in the five judge appeals chamber, according to AP. The majority ruled that the appeal was inadmissible under the court’s rules.

Lawyers representing Comoros sought a review of Bensouda’s original rejection, saying that, “the interests of justice and fairness, which are the core of the ICC’s mandate, strongly militate in favor of the Prosecutor reconsidering her decision.”

The judges’ call to reopen the case last July was condemned by Israeli officials. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stressed that “IDF soldiers acted in self defense while stopping an attempt to break a blockade carried out in accordance with international law as determined by the committee appointed by the UN Secretary General, a committee headed by a Supreme Court judge and international observers.”

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon described the decision as “scandalous” and “hypocritical”, adding, “The soldiers followed international law and defended themselves from violence by terrorists. We are fully backing the fighters, and we will fight to the bitter end against any attempt to harm them.”

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)

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