March 31, 2022
by Ali Kucukgocmen
ISTANBUL (Reuters) – A Turkish prosecutor demanded on Thursday that the trial of suspected Saudi Arabians in Istanbul over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi be stopped and handed over to the Saudi authorities, a move that comes as Turks try to improve relations with Riyadh. .
Khashoggi’s assassination of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul four years ago sparked outrage and put pressure on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
A US intelligence report released a year ago said the prince had approved the operation to kill or arrest Khashoggi, but the Saudi government denied all involvement of the Crown Prince and rejected the report’s findings.
Turkish officials said they believed Khashoggi, a prominent critic of the Crown Prince, had been killed and his body dismembered in an operation that President Tayyip Erdogan said had been ordered at a “senior” level in Saudi Arabia.
The assassination and subsequent allegations pushed ties between the two powers and led to Saudi Arabia’s unofficial boycott of Turkish goods, which reduced Ankara’s exports to Riyadh by 90%.
Erdogan is now looking for better relations with countries that had become fierce rivals in recent years, including Egypt, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
Leaders of Israel and the United Arab Emirates have visited Ankara in recent months, but progress has been slower with Cairo and Riyadh. Erdogan said last month that he hoped to take “concrete steps” with Riyadh soon.
A court in Istanbul, where 26 Saudi suspects have been convicted of absenteeism for almost two years, said on Thursday that it would seek the opinion of the Ministry of Justice on the request to transfer the proceedings and decide on the next hearing on April 7.
In 2020, Saudi Arabia imprisoned eight people in seven to 20 years in prison for Khashoggi’s assassination. None of the defendants were named in what rights groups described as sham trials.
At the time, Ankara said the verdict was below expectations, but has since softened the tone as part of a broader effort to fix the relationship. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told A Haber Radio on Thursday that “judicial cooperation” between the two countries had improved.
Erol Onderoglu, a spokesman for Reporters Without Borders (RSF), said the Turkish Ministry of Justice should reject the prosecutor’s request to transfer the case to Saudi Arabia.
“It is not possible to expect anything from Riyadh, as such a legal match took place,” he told Reuters.
SHEEP BOILED TRANSPORT
Last year, the Turkish court rejected requests to add the US intelligence service’s assessment of the role of Prince Mohammed to the case file. It then requested information about the trial in Riyadh from the Saudi authorities to avoid punishing the defendants twice.
The Turkish prosecutor said the Saudi authorities had responded by requesting that the case be transferred and promising to assess the allegations against the 26 defendants.
The request should be granted, the prosecutor said, because the defendants were foreign nationals, the arrest warrants could not be executed and their statements could not be taken, so the case would be adjourned or adjourned.
The Crown Prince told The Atlantic monthly in an article published this month that he felt that his rights had been violated by accusations against him, as every man should be considered innocent until proven guilty.
Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s chief executive, said Turkey was “betraying” Khashoggi and justice.
Callamard, a former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Criminal Judgment or Arbitration, carried out the investigation, which revealed that Saudi officials “organized and committed” the assassination of Khashoggi.
“Nothing surprising though,” she said on Twitter of the prosecutor’s request. “Turkey is, after all, one of the worst prison guards of journalists and can not be trusted,” said Callamard, describing the move as “backless”.
(Reports by Ali Kucukgocmen; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Jonathan Spicer, David Clarke, William Maclean)
Turkish prosecutor demands that Khashoggi’s trial be transferred to Saudi Arabia
Source link Turkish prosecutor demands that Khashoggi’s trial be transferred to Saudi Arabia