Turkish Justice Ministry greenlights transfer of Khashoggi case to Saudi

The Turkish Justice Ministry has given an approval for the transfer to Saudi Arabia of the murder trial of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Euronews Turkish reported on Friday.

The move by the ministry arrives days after a Turkish prosecutor called for the suspension of the case against 26 Saudi nationals accused of murdering Khashoggi in 2018.

Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post who was a critic of the Kindgom’s crown prince and his policies, was murdered by a team of Saudi agents in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. His dismembered body has never been recovered.

The latest developments in the case coincide with a thaw in relations between Ankara and Riyadh, which hit an all-time low following the Khashoggi case.

The Turkish Ministry, referring to the lack of approval by Saudi authorities for Turkey’s “demand for the extradition of the suspects on trial within the framework of the investigation” cited Article 24 of Law No 6706 on international judicial cooperation in criminal matters as reasoning for its approval of the transfer of probe, Euronews reported.

Turkish officials say that the 62-year-old Saudi national was dismembered with a bone saw inside the consulate. His body has never been found.

Arrest warrants for the suspects could not be executed and therefore statements by the defence could not be taken in the trial, according to the Turkish prosecution. The trial of the suspects in absentia was adjourned until April 7.

The people on trial in absentia include two former aides of the crown prince. 

Amnesty International on Friday condemned Turkey over a possible transfer the Istanbul trial.

“By transferring the case of a murder that was committed on its territory, Turkey will be knowingly and willingly sending the case back into hands of those who bare its responsibility. Indeed, the Saudi system has repeatedly failed to cooperate with the Turkish prosecutor and it is clear that justice cannot be delivered by a Saudi court,”  Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard said.

Callamard went on to question what had happened to “ Turkey’s declared commitment that justice must prevail for this gruesome murder” and statements from Ankara that this case “would never become a pawn in political calculations and interest”.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Tuesday reaffirmed burgeoning ties between Turkey and the Kingdom, saying he and his Saudi Arabian counterpart had agreed to improve ties following constructive discussions held in Pakistan, CNN Turkish reported.

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