UN rights probe into Israel flottilla raid heads to Turkey

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A UN human rights inquiry into Israel's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla has begun a two-week visit to Turkey and Jordan to interview witnesses and government officials, the UN said Monday.

The three members of the fact-finding mission flew to Turkey on Sunday and will stay there until August 29, before heading to Jordan until September 4, the UN human rights office said in a statement.

"Technical and legal experts are accompanying the mission which intends to inspect the ship Mavi Marmara in which nine passengers died on 31 May 2010," it added.

The mission is due to report back to the 47 member UN Human Rights Council at its next session from September 13 to October 11.

Israeli officials have rejected the council's mission as biased.

Israel agreed to back another, separate probe into the incident, set up by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The three experts mandated by the UN rights council interviewed unspecified witnesses in London and Geneva last week, and have met Turkish and Israeli ambassadors in Geneva.

The fact-finding mission is chaired by Karl Hudson-Phillips, former judge of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Desmond de Silva, former chief prosecutor of the Sierra Leone War Crimes Tribunal, and Shanthi Dairiam, as Malaysian human rights expert, are the other members.

© 2010 AFP

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