More powers for flotilla probe

JERUSALEM - Israel's cabinet granted wider powers yesterday to a commission investigating a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, enabling the panel to compel witnesses to appear and testify under oath.

JERUSALEM - Israel's cabinet granted wider powers yesterday to a commission investigating a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, enabling the panel to compel witnesses to appear and testify under oath.

But the decision did not constitute a broadening of the inquiry's mandate to include an examination of Israeli political leaders' decision-making in ordering the May 31 interception in which nine pro-Palestinian Turkish activists were killed.

A government statement said the cabinet granted the five-man panel led by former supreme court Justice Jacob Turkel subpoena powers and that witnesses would be sworn in, effectively exposing them to perjury charges for any false testimony.

Turkel had asked the government for those specific powers and has said he would summon prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, defence minister Ehud Barak and Israel's military chief, Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi to appear before the commission. - Reuters

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