UN fact-finding tean in Turkey for aid flotilla probe
Members of an international fact-finding team established by the UN Human Rights Council began meeting with Turkish officials in Ankara yesterday as part of an investigation into an Israeli attack on an aid flotilla on May 31 that left nine peace activists dead. Members of the UN panel met with President Abdullah Gul and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Monday and are due to travel to Istanbul and Iskenderun, where three Turkish ships that were part of the aid flotilla are currently docked, before completing their visit this weekend, according to a Foreign Ministry statement. The fact-finding mission is made up of British lawyer Desmond de Silva – a former UN war crimes prosecutor – Trinidadian judge Karl T. Hudson-Phillips, and Malaysian women's rights advocate Mary Shanthi Dairiam. Its mandate is primarily to investigate whether Israel breached international humanitarian or human rights law. Their final report on the raid, said the statement, "carries great importance for shedding light on the facts of the incident." The UN Human Rights Council's investigation into the Israeli raid, which took place in international waters, is separate from a higher-profile UN probe announced by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The 47-member council's probe was launched before Ban's announcement of the high-level panel earlier this month. The president of the Geneva-based council, Sihasak Phuangketkeow, has dismissed claims that Ban's announcement made the council's investigation superfluous, saying that there is a clear distinction between the missions and mandates of the two inquiries.