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26 May 2014

The Muslim Lawyers Association (MLA), the Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA) and the Media Review Network (MRN) join South African journalist Gadija Davids from Cape Town and her family in welcoming the decision by the Turkish Criminal Court in Istanbul today where the court had ordered the arrest of the four former Israeli military chiefs over the 2010 Mavi Marmara, Freedom Flotilla  incident.

Davids legal team had lodged her case domestically under the auspices of the South Africa’s adoption and ratification of the Rome Statute in terms of the International Criminal Court Act 27 of 2002.

A decision regarding jurisdictional requirements and a decision to investigate was made in November 2012 jointly by the Priority Crimes Litigation Unit (PCLU) of the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) and South African Authorities SAPS Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigation Unit (DIPCI).

Davids case is dependant on international movement as the organs of state decision back in 2012 had opened the doors to mutual co-operation and assistance, reports Attorney Ziyaad Patel, Davids lawyer.

The Turkish court will now request Interpol to issue international arrest warrants for the four men.

The arrest warrants have been issued for the former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin, IAF intelligence chief Avishai Levi and naval forces commander Eliezer Marom.

All of the four Israeli commanders were invited to submit to the jurisdiction of the court and present their  defence to the indictment levelled against them. The purpose of the warrants of the arrest with the assistance of Interpol aims to achieve this purpose of securing the accused at the court to answer the indictment.

Davids lawyer added the purpose of the Freedom Flotilla was to break Israel’s blockade since Operation Cast lead. The Mavi Marmara was unlawfully attacked in international waters on 31 May 2010. At least 10 passengers were killed.

Uğur Süleyman Söylemez, who was wounded in the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara was left in a coma for four years passed away on 25th May 2014 at the age of 51.

The Flotilla passengers were kidnapped, their personal belongings stolen, the humanitarian cargo pirated by the Israeli Navy when the Flotilla was redirected and ordered to dock at the Port of Ashdod

From the testimony heard in the Turkish Courts many passengers were physically assaulted, tortured and inhumanely treated. This constitutes  crimes against humanity. These egregious offences are all punishable under international law.

Many lawyers representing victims from various jurisdictions have worked tirelessly with the IHH Relief Organisation in Turkey. This organisation was at the time delivering the aid to the Gaza Strip. It utilised and implemented  the principles of universal jurisdiction to investigate Israeli war criminals over this attack.

Over the few years that this case has been in the Turkish Court, Davids had also tendered evidence and her legal team has participated and contributed in the topical discussion on universal jurisdiction.

A referral by the State of Comoros initiated by IHH is also presently underway at the International Criminal Court. The aforesaid organisations with the Davids family would like to thank and congratulate the Turkish lawyers and IHH for all their efforts in the pursuit of justice.

The Attorney of record, Ziyaad Patel, may be contacted at:

083 3095238  (mobile)   011 7822644 (o).

Issued by

  1. The MLA   –  Yousha Tayob
  2. The Media Review Network  – Ibrahim Vawda
  3. The Palestine Solidarity Alliance   Naazim Adam