Another chapter in a story the BBC stopped reporting in 2014

Once again the BBC fails to keep its 'permanent public record' up to date.

Back in May 2013 a BBC News website headline claimed that the International Criminal Court (ICC) had launched an inquiry “into Israeli raid on Gaza flotilla”.

BBC sensationalises routine obligatory inquiry

In November 2014 the BBC News website published a report headlined “Gaza flotilla raid: No Israel charges over Mavi Marmara”.

BBC News misleads audiences on ICC Mavi Marmara statement

That story did not however end there, as the Times of Israel reports:

“In November 2014, [Fatou] Bensouda, the [ICC] chief prosecutor, decided that there was “no reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation” on the matter. […]

The Comoros appealed her decision a few weeks later, asking the court’s pre-trial judges to order her to reconsider. Bensouda asked them to dismiss the appeal.

On July 16, 2015, the three judges of the pre-trial chamber requested that she reconsider her decision not to initiate an investigation into the matter, ruling that she had “committed material errors” in her assessment of the case’s gravity.

Bensouda did not give up. Eleven days later, she appealed the judges’ decision. But on November 6, 2015, the Appeals Chamber dismissed the prosecutor’s appeal based on an interpretation article 82(1)(a) of the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding document, and Bensouda had to review the case for a second time.

Two years later, on November 29, 2017, Bensouda handed down what she hoped would be her “final decision” on the flotilla incident, stating that she “remains of the view that there is no reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation,” and that the preliminary examination “must be closed.”

The Comoros in February 2018 applied to the Appeals Chamber for a “Judicial Review,” of the prosecutor’s repeated decisions to close the case, citing “discernable [sic] errors in each of them.”

Bensouda, in turn, argued that the Appeals Chamber may not have jurisdiction to rule in the case, suggesting that it dismiss the Comoros’ requests.

Many other requests and appeals were filed by both sides, arguing about jurisdiction and timetables, until November 2018, when the pre-trial chamber ruled that the prosecutor’s ostensible “final decision” from November 2017 “cannot be considered to be final” and asked her to consider the case for a third time.

In September 2019, the court’s Appeals Chamber also ordered Bensouda to reconsider the case, with Presiding Judge Solomy Bossa giving her a December 2 deadline. 

On December 3rd another chapter in that saga came to an end.

“The chief prosecutor of International Criminal Court on Monday refused for the third time to open an investigation into the 2010 Gaza flotilla incident, saying any crimes allegedly committed during the raid were not severe enough to merit such a probe.

Fatou Bensouda reiterated her position that there is no reason to launch an investigation into the matter “because there is no potential case arising from this situation that is sufficiently grave, to reconsider a case that she had repeatedly sought to close due to lack of gravity,” her office stated.”

When the BBC News website last reported on the story in November 2014 it informed audiences that:

“…lawyers representing the Comoros vowed to appeal against the decision, saying it was a “struggle for justice, humanity and honour”.

“Our struggle is not over. We will appeal to a higher court for a review and hopefully achieve a favourable result,” attorney Ramazan Ariturk said.”

Insofar as we aware, the BBC News website did not produce any follow-up reporting relating to that story throughout the last five years. Nevertheless, in a backgrounder published in June 2016, it once again chose to promote the notion of “war crimes” – despite no investigation having been carried out by the ICC.

“In November 2014, a preliminary examination by the International Criminal Court’s Chief Prosecutor concluded that it should not take further action despite a “reasonable basis to believe that war crimes… were committed”, because it had to prioritise war crimes on a larger scale.”

Although that backgrounder remains available online, the BBC has not made any effort to date to update it with the news that the case has so far been rejected by the ICC three times.

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