Mavi Marmara: Israeli officers face Turkish trial

The cruise liner Mavi Marmara is pictured in a shipyard in Istanbul, Turkey, 4 September 2011 Israeli navy commandos intercepted the Mavi Marmara and other ships

A Turkish court has charged four senior Israeli military commanders over the killing of nine Turkish activists trying to reach Gaza in 2010.

Ex-military chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi and former heads of military intelligence, the navy and air force are expected to be tried in absentia.

The nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed after Israeli troops boarded their ship, the Mavi Marmara.

They had been hoping to breach Israel's naval blockade and deliver aid to Gaza.

A prosecutor at the court in Istanbul has called for each of the four Israeli officers to face nine life sentences, Turkish news agency Anatolia reported.

The other three commanders are ex-naval chief Vice Admiral Eliezer Marom, former head of military intelligence Major General Amos Yadlin, and former head of the air force Brigadier General Avishai Lev.

If they are convicted, the Turkish court could issue a warrant for their arrest.

Israel carried out its own investigation but has not prosecuted anyone involved in the raid.

The Mavi Marmara was intercepted by the Israeli navy in international waters as it sailed towards Gaza's coast on 31 May 2010.

A UN inquiry found that Israel's blockade of Gaza was "a legitimate security measure".

It said Israeli troops had faced "significant, organised and violent resistance" when they boarded the ship.

But it said Israel's decision to board the ship and the use of substantial force was "excessive and unreasonable".

The incident has led to a major rift in relations between Turkey and Israel.

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