Ankara, Apr 7 (EFE).- A Turkish court has suspended a trial investigating the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi and transferred the case to Saudi Arabia, despite warnings from human rights watchdogs the move would likely lead to a cover-up of the murder that caused international outrage.
The Turkish court was trying 26 Saudi citizens in absentia, accused of the chilling murder of Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who was openly critical of crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman, and who was last seen on October 2, 2018 entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The decision came after Turkey’s justice ministry evaluated a request lodged by the prosecutor on March 31 to close and transfer the case. The prosecutor argued that it would be impossible to arrest any suspects as they were all abroad.
The ministry’s formal ruling Thursday means the case will be transferred to a Saudi court, a decision deputy Middle East director for Human Rights Watch, Michael Page said “would end any possibility of justice for (Khashoggi) and would reinforce Saudi authorities’ apparent belief that they can get away with murder.”
“The 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,” Page added.
Turkish officials allege that Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by a Saudi hit squad in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where he had gone to process paperwork ahead of his marriage to Hatice Cengiz.
Ali Ceylan, Cengiz’s lawyer, criticized the ruling and told the court it was necessary to protect the dignity of the Turkish nation.
A Saudi court closed its own investigation into the incident in September 2020 after sentencing eight defendants to up to 20 years in prison.
According to HRW, Saudi authorities failed to arrest the most senior officials accused of involvement in Khashoggi’s murder, including the former royal court adviser, Saud al-Qahtani, and deputy intelligence chief, Ahmed al-Assiri.EFE