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Turkey: Prosecutor’s request to move Khashoggi murder proceedings to Saudi Arabia dashes hopes of justice

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Turkey: Prosecutor’s request to move Khashoggi murder proceedings to Saudi Arabia dashes hopes of justice
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is deeply concerned by the request of a Turkish prosecutor to end legal proceedings in Turkey in the murder case of Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi and hand the case over to Saudi Arabia instead. The move would dash any remaining hopes of criminal justice for the 2018 assassination. RSF urges the Turkish courts to do their part to fight impunity by seeing this case through.

On 31 March, in the latest sitting in Jamal Khashoggi’s murder trial at Istanbul’s Çağlayan Court, the Turkish prosecutor noted that Saudi Arabia had formally requested to take over the case – a recommendation that he supported, calling for the case to be handed over and Turkish proceedings brought to a close. The next hearing has been set for 7 April.

“The prosecutor’s request to close the court process in Turkey after 21 months of proceedings is extremely disappointing. Handing the case over to Saudi Arabia would be a serious blow to any remaining chance of criminal justice for Jamal Khashoggi’s killers. We urge the Turkish courts to do their part to fight impunity for this horrific crime by seeing this case through,” said RSF Turkey representative Erol Önderoğlu, who monitored the hearing.

RSF has been the only NGO to monitor the full proceedings in Istanbul, which opened in July 2020. Twenty-six defendants – all Saudi nationals – are being tried in absentia, with legal representation appointed by the Istanbul Bar Association. RSF had applied to become a civil party to the case, but the application was rejected by the court in November 2020. In March 2021, the court rejected the request by Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz to accept into evidence the declassified US intelligence report naming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as responsible for approving Khashoggi’s murder.

Saudi Arabia held its own secretive trial in the case in 2020, which failed to meet fair trial standards and made a mockery of justice. Eight unidentified defendants were reportedly given sentences ranging from 7 to 20 years in prison. A further three defendants were acquitted, including senior Saudi officials. The country’s broader press freedom record remains dismal with a total of 28 journalists jailed in connection with their work, and blogger Raif Badawi subjected to a travel ban following his recent release from prison on completion of a 10-year sentence.

Turkey is ranked 153rd and Saudi Arabia is ranked 170th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2021 World Press Freedom Index.

Source – https://rsf.org/en/news/turkey-prosecutors-request-move-khashoggi-murder-proceedings-saudi-arabia-dashes-hopes-justice

 

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