The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, has decided to close her preliminary inquiry into the 31 May 2010 Israeli raid on a humanitarian flotilla bound for Gaza that killed nine Turkish activists, according to a statement today.
The case was referred to her office on 14 May 2013 by the Union of the Comoros, which is an ICC State Party. One of the ships in the flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, was registered in the Comoros.
On the same day, the Prosecutor announced that her Office had opened a preliminary examination of the referred situation.
“Following a thorough legal and factual analysis of the information available, I have concluded that there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (…) were committed on one of the vessels, the Mavi Marmara, when Israeli Defense Forces intercepted the “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” on 31 May 2010,” said the Prosecutor.
However, “after carefully assessing all relevant considerations”, she concluded that the potential case(s) likely arising from an investigation into this incident would not be of “sufficient gravity” to justify further action by the ICC.
Ms Bensouda said she had referred to the reports of the various inquiries that had previously examined the incident in making her decision.
She stressed that the gravity requirement is an “explicit legal criteria set by the Rome Statute” and that “without in any way minimizing the impact of the alleged crimes on the victims and their families, I have to be guided by the Rome Statute, in accordance with which, the ICC shall prioritize war crimes committed on a large scale or pursuant to a plan or policy”.
In total, there were eight ships in the flotilla that were boarded in international waters about 130km (80 miles) from the Israeli coast.
The activists, many from a pro-Palestinian Turkish group called the IHH, said they wanted to deliver aid to the Palestinian enclave by breaking Israel’s naval blockade.
The Union of the Comoros has the right to request the Judges of the ICC to review the Prosecutor’s decision not to proceed to open an investigation, pursuant to article 53(3)(a) of the Statute.