Lawyers for Turkish aid flotilla victims ask ICC to act

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Lawyers representing the Turkish victims of Israel's deadly storming of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in May urged the International Criminal Court in The Hague Thursday to pursue those responsible.

"We believe war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed," Ugur Sevgili, one of the lawyers, told journalists after presenting a dossier with evidence to the office of prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo.

"The office of the prosecutor of the ICC has a duty to prosecute," said Sevgili, adding that "we want to bring an end to impunity. We want to bring justice to the people of Palestine."

On May 31, Israeli commandos boarded a flotilla of six humanitarian ships on their way to Gaza. Nine Turkish activists were killed, sparking international condemnation.

Sevgili said the dossier contained evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the form of videos, photos, autopsy findings and a UN report condemning the incident.

The ICC is the world's only independent, permanent tribunal with jurisdiction to try genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Neither Israel nor Turkey is a signatory to the ICC's founding Rome Statute, but Sevgili argued this should not affect jurisdiction.

"If there are war crimes there is jurisdiction and the ICC should act," he said.

Ahmet Dogan, the father of 19-year-old Furkan Dogan who was killed in the assault, told AFP outside the court that "The people who committed this crime must be prosecuted.

"Like any normal person I want these people to be in jail."

As a small group of picketers held up posters depicting the word "Humanity" riddled with bullet holes, Dogan said his son had "just wanted to help the people of Gaza, especially the children."

The office of the prosecutor, who declined to comment on Thursday's meeting, will now conduct a preliminary analysis to determine whether to launch a full probe.

That could take more than a year, said Sevgili.

© 2010 AFP

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