- BBC News World
The trial in Turkey of 26 Saudi citizens accused of participating in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi came to an end on Thursday.
A Turkish court has declared that the case will be handed over to Saudi Arabia, which has refused to extradite those suspected of killing and covering up the body of the Saudi journalist from the Washington Post.
Khashoggi was assassinated inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul in 2018. His death at the hands of Saudi agents sparked global outrage.
Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, said she will continue to fight for justice.
Thursday’s ruling comes after Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag agreed to a prosecutor’s request to stop the trial. on the grounds that it was hampered by the absence of the 26 citizens accused.
The prosecutor said that the Saudi authorities promised to evaluate the accusations.
However, this measure has been criticized by human rights activists, who claim that there is a cover-up so as not to prosecute the accused.
Amnesty International’s delegate in Turkey, Milena Buyum, defined it as“an appalling and clearly political decision”.
Outside the courthouse, Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancée, told reporters that she will appeal the decision, the AFP news agency reported.
“My fight for justice for Jamal is not over. The courts have decided that they can ignore the truth about your case, but I will not stop and I will not keep quiet about it. We all know who is guilty of Jamal’s murder and now it is more important than ever that I move forward,” she tweeted.
The organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said that the decision appears to stem from a “diplomatic rapprochement” between Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
The unfolding of these events comes at a time when Turkey could be seeking repair its relations with Saudi Arabia.
Relations between the two regional powers deteriorated significantly after Khashoggi’s assassination and led to an unofficial Saudi boycott of Turkish exports.
The assassination drew international condemnation and caused a diplomatic crisis between Saudi Arabia and some of its closest allies, including the United States.
A premeditated murder
Jamal Khashoggi, critic of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salmanwas last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, where he had gone to get some documents needed to marry his fiancée.
The then UN special rapporteur, Agnes Callamard, concluded that Jamal Khashoggi was“brutally murdered” inside the consulate building by a team of 15 agents sent from Riyadh, the Saudi capital, and that his body was dismembered.
Callamard came to that conclusion after listening to alleged audio recordings of conversations inside the consulate collected by Turkish intelligence.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan alleged that Khashoggi was “murdered in cold blood by a death squad” sent from Riyadh, and said that “it had been established that his murder was premeditated“.
US intelligence agencies concluded that Mohammed bin Salmanthe de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, approved an operation to capture or kill Khashoggi.
The prince denied having played any role and Saudi prosecutors blamed the agents as “rogue”.
A year after the murder, a Saudi court found five people guilty of direct involvement in the murder and handed down death sentences that were later commuted to 20-year prison terms.
Three other people were jailed for seven to 10 years for covering up the crime.
Turkey rejected the result as “scandalous” and for almost two years an Istanbul court was trying in absentia the 26 Saudi citizens accused of having committed the murder or covered up evidence – and whose file is now in the hands of Saudi Arabia.
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