Turkish courtroom seeks Saudi information for Khashoggi homicide suspects

Istanbul, Turkey – A Turkish courtroom has requested authorities to verify if defendants on trial in absentia for the homicide of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi already face prices in Saudi Arabia.

The decide requested the Turkish Ministry of Justice to contact counterparts in Saudi Arabia and verify if an investigation, prosecution or sentencing had been carried on the market towards the defendants within the case, to be able to keep away from retrying them for a similar offence in Turkey. The decide set the following listening to for February 24, 2022.

Tuesday’s listening to was the fifth within the trial, which started in 2020. The courtroom is attempting 26 Saudi nationals, together with a vice consul and an attache, accused of participating within the killing of the journalist on the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

Khashoggi, who was a widely known critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), had been living overseas, and was final seen getting into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to acquire paperwork wanted to register a wedding.

Soon after he entered the consulate, Khashoggi was killed by a group of Saudi brokers, who dismembered and disposed of his physique, which has but to be discovered. Fellow dissidents who knew Khashoggi, in addition to high Turkish officers, have testified alongside Turkish employees working on the consulate over the course of the trial.

Prosecutors are searching for aggravated life imprisonment for 4 defendants accused of “premeditated murder with monstrous intent,” whereas 18 others face aggravated life imprisonment for participating in strangling Khashoggi. Another 4 individuals resist 5 years in jail for destroying, concealing or tampering with proof.

‘Justice delayed is justice denied’

The Turkish courtroom has twice rejected a request by the authorized group of Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, to incorporate as proof a US intelligence report that discovered MBS had accredited the operation to seize or kill the journalist.

The report, launched in February, discovered the crown prince not solely had choice making authority within the kingdom to hold out such a killing, but in addition mentioned there was “direct involvement” of a key adviser and members of his safety element.

In earlier hearings, the decide informed Cengiz the report “would bring nothing to the trial,” and he or she ought to as an alternative ask the Istanbul Prosecutor General to incorporate the report of their filings. Prosecutors have up to now given no indication they intend to quote the US intelligence report.

Cengiz informed Al Jazeera she nonetheless hoped the case would supply justice for her fiance. “I hope to get all evidence from the USA, and continue to judge the real killers,” Cengiz mentioned. “Justice delayed is justice denied.”

Saudi authorities have mentioned they’ve already punished these chargeable for the homicide, which they are saying was not sanctioned by MBS. Eight individuals, none of them publicly named, have been jailed by the dominion for between seven and 20 years, in what rights teams have mentioned is an try to provide an impression the case is closed. Khashoggi’s kids have publicly mentioned they pardoned their father’s killers.

Concerns raised

Erol Önderoğlu, a consultant of the Turkish chapter of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), attended the listening to and informed Al Jazeera no extra witnesses are more likely to be heard by the courtroom, and raised fears that the case might be quietly put aside as Turkey and Saudi Arabia search to fix political ties.

Previous hearings have seen diplomats from a number of Western international locations attend, however on Tuesday, solely the German consulate despatched an observer. The third anniversary of the homicide went unmarked this October in Istanbul, a stark distinction with earlier memorial companies held straight in entrance of the Saudi consulate with the attendance of each Turkish and US officers and a big media presence.

The capability of the Turkish courtroom to prosecute the Khashoggi homicide not solely has worldwide implications, but in addition raises questions of what journalists inside Turkey can anticipate for their very own security as effectively, Önderoğlu mentioned.

“We have multidimensional concerns. One is related to the commitment of the international community, and now with this case, we have concerns related to the commitment of the Turkish authorities themselves,” he informed Al Jazeera.

“The fact that the court twice rejected requests from Hatice Cengiz and her lawyer to include the US intelligence report, and the fact the prosecutor too has given no sign of asking for that report, together with the idea that Turkey and Saudi Arabia are launching a reconciliation and the third anniversary of the murder passed silently in Istanbul – that all gives the impression this case is no longer popular.”

“We can no longer pretend the Khashoggi case is at the top of the agenda,” he mentioned.