Today, 23 July 2010, three Spanish victims filed a complaint at the Audiencia Nacional in Madrid in relation to the alleged international crimes they were subjected to by Israeli military personnel in international waters on 31 May when the Israelis unlawfully intercepted and attacked the six vessels bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza, known as the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.
The Spanish case follows the international meeting of lawyers working for passengers of the flotilla from across the world, which took place in Istanbul as recently as 15 July 2010 [http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/news-216325-100-lawyers-demand-justice-for-flotillavictims.html] and is part of a joint effort by a large group of legal teams in several countries, from Europe, North America, Africa and Asia, coordinated by ELMADAĞ (Turkey) and HICKMAN & ROSE (United Kingdom) with the aim of ensuring that the passengers of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla achieve access to criminal justice, ensuring that Israeli suspects are held accountable and receive a fair trial. However, as no single jurisdiction may be able to achieve this, the case in Spain cannot stand alone and it will be followed by similar cases where the national law of the countries concerned provides access to justice to the passengers, via the principle of universal jurisdiction.
However, the legal teams working on these cases all consider that it is preferable for the criminal allegations to be considered by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
It is necessary to emphasize that, as two of the six vessels were flag states of states party to the Rome Statute of the ICC (namely Comoros as to the Mavi Marmara and Greece as to the Sfendoni), it lies in the hands of (a) those two states to refer the events on those vessels to the ICC and/or (b) all other states party to the Rome Statute, including all EU states, to refer the events on those vessels to the ICC.
The lawyers for passengers around the world therefore call on the states which have ratified the Rome Statute to assume their responsibilities and refer the case to the ICC, so rather than leaving the matter to a series of national courts, the ICC can undertake the investigation and prosecution of these alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity. Otherwise, the Israeli authorities will continue to act with impunity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in surrounding states, such as Lebanon and Syria and in international waters.
The sole purpose of the legal effort is to ensure criminal accountability on the part of any suspects that have a case to answer for the events of 31 May (that left nine civilians dead, many injured and saw people stripped of their belongings and unlawfully confined and transferred into Israeli territory), which will end impunity, thereby deterring those who are tempted to commit crimes that repudiate the entire international community, peace and security and that threaten the very idea of an international rule of law.
Finally, the lawyers for the passengers welcome the establishment of the UN Fact Finding Mission and await the official announcement of the appointment of the members of the mission and their advisors.
The detail of the cases cannot be discussed as the matter is now in the hands of the judiciary, but for further comment on the purpose of the litigation or the role of the ICC, please contact:
ELMADAĞ LAW OFFICE (TURKEY)
Att. Ramazan ARITURK Partner
Direct Tel +90 (0) 212 465 88 65 Direct fax +90 (0) 212 465 88 69
Direct Tel +90 (0) 212 465 88 65 Mobile 07773 341096
HICKMAN & ROSE (UK)
Att. Daniel MACHOVER Partner
Direct Tel 020 7702 5334 Mobile 07773 341096
Direct fax 0872222415 firstname.lastname@example.org