Turkish courts have asked the authorities to check whether the defendant who was in absentia for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has already faced charges in Saudi Arabia.
The judge asked the Turkish Ministry of Justice to contact their counterparts in Saudi Arabia and check whether the defendants in the case were investigated, prosecuted or sentenced there to avoid retrials for the same crime in Turkey. The judge set the next hearing on February 24, 2022.
The hearing on Tuesday is the fifth in the trial, which will begin in 2020. The court is trying 26 Saudi nationals, including a deputy consul and an attaché, who were accused of killing a journalist at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.
Khashoggi is a well-known critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). He has been living abroad. The last time he was seen was entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain the necessary information to register his marriage. document.
Kashuji was killed by a team of Saudi agents shortly after entering the consulate. They mutilated and disposed of his body, but he has not been found yet. During the trial, other dissidents who knew Kashuji and senior Turkish officials testified together with Turkish staff working at the consulate.
Prosecutors are seeking to sentence four defendants accused of “deliberate and deliberate murder” to increased life imprisonment, while another 18 people face increased life imprisonment for participating in the strangulation of Kashuji. The other four people face up to five years in prison for destroying, concealing or falsifying evidence.
‘Late justice is the rejection of justice’
The Turkish court twice rejected Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz’s legal team’s request to use a US intelligence report as evidence, which found MBS Approve operation Arrest or kill journalists.
The report released in February found that the crown prince not only has the decision-making power to execute such killings in the kingdom, but also stated that a key adviser and his security details members were “directly involved”.
At the previous hearing, the judge told Cengiz that the report “will not bring any benefit to the trial” and she should ask the Istanbul Attorney General to include the report in their files. So far, prosecutors have not indicated that they intend to cite US intelligence reports.
Cengiz told Al Jazeera that she still hopes that this case will bring justice to her fiance. “I hope to get all the evidence from the United States and continue to judge the real murderer,” Cengiz said. “Justice that is late is the negation of justice.”
The Saudi authorities stated that they had punished those responsible for the murder, which they said was not sanctioned by MBS. Eight of them, without public names, have been imprisoned by the Kingdom for 7 to 20 years. The rights organization stated that this was to give people the impression that the case was closed. Kashuji’s children publicly stated that they had pardoned the murderer of their father.
Errol Önderoğlu, a representative of the Turkish branch of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), attended the hearing and told Al Jazeera that the court may not hear more witnesses, and worried that the case may be quietly shelved because of Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Arabs seek to mend political relations.
Earlier hearings have seen diplomats from several Western countries attending, but on Tuesday only the German consulate sent an observer. The third anniversary of the murder held in Istanbul in October this year has no commemorative significance. This is in stark contrast to the memorial service held directly in front of the Saudi consulate. Turkish and American officials attended and a large number of media participated.
Önderoğlu said that the ability of Turkish courts to prosecute Khashoggi’s murder not only has an international impact, but has also triggered expectations of Turkish journalists for their own safety.
“We have many concerns. One is related to the promise of the international community. Now that we have this case, we are concerned about the Turkish authorities’ own promises,” he told Al Jazeera.
“The court twice rejected Hatice Cengiz and her lawyer’s request to include the U.S. intelligence report, and the prosecutor showed no signs of requesting the report, and Turkey and Saudi Arabia are launching an investigation. The third anniversary of the reconciliation and murder case passed quietly in Istanbul-all this gives the impression that this case is no longer popular.”
“We can no longer pretend that the Khashoggi case is the top priority of the agenda,” he said.