Turkish court dismissed Khashoggi case ahead of MBS visit

A court in Istanbul dismissed the case on the killing of U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last week, ahead of Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Ankara, the Cumhuriyet newspaper reported on Friday.

The same court had halted proceedings on April 7 and ruled to turn over the case where 26 Saudi nationals faced charges related to the Khashoggi murder to Saudi Arabia, Cumhuriyet said.

The Istanbul court cited a Riyadh court which convicted eight defendants and acquitted several others in a ruling on May 30, and said while it was established that Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, there were no witnesses or video footage on how it actually happened.

The dismissal was based on the grounds that the Saudi court had issued a ruling that was compatible with material reality, Cumhuriyet cited the court as saying.

Khashoggi’s family will be filing an appeal, lawyer Gökmen Başpınar told reporters.

“His visit to our country doesn’t change the fact that he is responsible for a murder,” Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz said in a tweet on the day of bin Salman’s arrival in Turkey. “This struggle for justice is no longer my fight alone. It is a fight by every free and thoughtful person. He is unfairly killed, he is someone even without a grave.”

Nimet Demir, president of the Istanbul court, objected to the handing over of the case to Saudi authorities and was subsequently transferred by the Justice Ministry to another province for the summer.

“My transfer will be seen as a decision to make the judiciary toe the line,” Demir told daily Sözcü after the appointment last week. “The case was a ransom payment in return for deteriorating bilateral relations.”

(This story was updated to correct Prince Mohammed's initials in headline.)

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