Turkey court confirms transfer of Khashoggi murder trial to Saudi Arabia

Judge confirms halt of the trial in absentia of 26 suspects linked to killing of journalist and its transfer to Riyadh.

A Turkish court on Thursday confirmed a halt of the trial in absentia of 26 suspects linked to the killing of Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi and its transfer to Riyadh.

“We decided to halt and hand over the case to Saudi Arabia,” the judge said.

The 59-year-old Washington Post and Middle East Eye columnist was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October 2018 in a gruesome murder that shocked the world.

One of the lawyers for the plaintiff Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancée, said during the hearing that there were no grounds to pass the case to Saudi Arabia.

“We have already submitted a motion to stop the execution of the Justice Ministry’s memorandum to transfer the case to Saudi Arabia. And this court should wait for it,” said Gokmen Baspinar.

“There is no judicial cooperation deal between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. And Saudi Arabia isn’t a party to any international treaties that Turkey has signed.

“The trial has already ended in Saudi Arabia. Therefore the trial must continue in Turkey.”

‘Get away with murder’

Human Rights Watch had urged Turkey on Wednesday against transferring the trial, saying it would end any possibility of justice and reinforce “Saudi authorities’ apparent belief that they can get away with murder”.

Ankara-Riyadh relations worsened significantly after the killing, but Turkey has since sought to mend ties with Saudi Arabia to bolster its economy.

“Transferring the Khashoggi trial from Turkey to Saudi Arabia would end any possibility of justice for him, and would reinforce Saudi authorities’ apparent belief that they can get away with murder,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, on Wednesday.

“Turkish authorities should reverse their decision and not contribute any further to entrenching Saudi impunity by handing over the Khashoggi case to the very people implicated in his murder.”

‘Regional realpolitik’

A US intelligence report released a year ago said Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had approved the operation to kill or capture Khashoggi, but the Saudi government denied any involvement by the crown prince and rejected the report’s findings.

For years, Riyadh has been pressuring Ankara to drop the trial and has claimed its own legal proceedings, in which 18 individuals were charged with involvement in the murder, were sufficient.

But according to the Guardian, at least three members of the Saudi hit squad were residing and working “in seven-star accommodation” at a government-run security compound in Riyadh.

Cengiz told MEE last week that she was shocked by the prosecutor’s demand, and was very sad to see that things had reached this point.

However, earlier this year she had noted that the recent thaw in ties between Turkey and Saudi Arabia was a sign of the disappointment to come in her search for justice and closure.

“Turkey’s regional realpolitik in resolving tensions with other countries shouldn’t include sacrificing justice for Jamal Khashoggi,” said Page.

“The decision to transfer the case will be a shameful indictment of the Turkish authorities’ willingness to whitewash assassinations by foreign governments on their territory.”

Source: Middle East Eye

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