Photo’s source: wikipedia.org
On March 31th, 2022, the Turkish prosecutor made a surprise request in the case against 26 Saudi nationals charged in the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He asked that their trial in absentia to be suspended and the case transferred to Saudi Arabia, raising fears of a possible cover-up.
The panel of judges made no ruling on the prosecutor’s request but said a letter would be sent to Turkey’s Justice Ministry asking his opinion on the possible transfer of the file to Saudi judicial authorities, said Turkish Anadolu Agency. The trial was adjourned until April 7.
Turkey has been trying to normalize its relationship with Saudi Arabia, which hit an all-time low following Khashoggi’s October 2018 killing.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavasoglu declared in an interview on March 30, 2022, that Saudi authorities were more cooperative on judicial issues with Turkey, but did not elaborate.
Amnesty International urged Turkey to continue with the trial, saying if it is transferred to Saudi Arabia, Turkey will be “knowingly and willingly sending the case to a place where it will be covered up”.
The prosecutor said the case “has been dragging because the court orders cannot be executed on the grounds that the suspects are foreign nationals”, according to the DHA news agency.
Saudi officials say the murder was the doing of agents who had gone “rogue”. In September 2020, a Saudi court jailed eight people over the killing in a trial critics said lacked transparency.
The Turkish court asked the justice ministry in November, after the trial, to send a letter to Riyadh asking about those who had been sentenced in the kingdom, to avoid the risk of them being punished twice.
A US intelligence report from 2021, said that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the operation to kill or capture Khashoggi. The Saudi government has denied any involvement by the crown prince and rejected the report’s findings.
Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz said: “Emotionally speaking, of course, I am sad. Not because my country has made peace with Saudi Arabia and that this issue is closing, but ultimately, no matter how fiercely we defended it, on a national basis, on a state basis, on a president basis … now everything is starting to go back to the way it was, as if nothing had happened. I am inevitably disappointed about this”.
Turkey faced an economic crisis and is searching for foreign investment and trade. President Erdogan seeks now better ties with states which had become bitter rivals in recent years, like Egypt, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia.
Israeli and UAE leaders visited Ankara in the recent months, but progress with Cairo and Riyadh has been slower. Erdogan said on last April he hoped to take “concrete steps” with Riyadh soon.
This article was edited using the data from the Aljazeera.com, Reuters.com, Nytimes.com, and Apnews.com