Istanbul, Turkey – A Turkish court docket has requested authorities to examine if defendants on trial in absentia for the homicide of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi already face expenses in Saudi Arabia.
The choose requested the Turkish Ministry of Justice to contact counterparts in Saudi Arabia and examine if an investigation, prosecution or sentencing had been carried on the market in opposition to the defendants within the case, with a purpose to keep away from retrying them for a similar offence in Turkey. The choose set the following listening to for February 24, 2022.
Tuesday’s listening to was the fifth within the trial, which started in 2020. The court docket 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 well known critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), had been residing overseas, and was final seen coming into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to acquire paperwork wanted to register a wedding.
Quickly 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 prime Turkish officers, have testified alongside Turkish employees working on the consulate over the course of the trial.
Prosecutors are looking for aggravated life imprisonment for 4 defendants accused of “premeditated homicide with monstrous intent,” whereas 18 others face aggravated life imprisonment for participating in strangling Khashoggi. One other 4 individuals resist 5 years in jail for destroying, concealing or tampering with proof.
‘Justice delayed is justice denied’
The Turkish court docket 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 approved the operation to seize or kill the journalist.
The report, launched in February, discovered the crown prince not solely had determination making authority within the kingdom to hold out such a killing, but additionally stated there was “direct involvement” of a key adviser and members of his safety element.
In earlier hearings, the choose informed Cengiz the report “would carry nothing to the trial,” and she or he ought to as an alternative ask the Istanbul Prosecutor Common 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 proof from the USA, and proceed to guage the actual killers,” Cengiz stated. “Justice delayed is justice denied.”
Saudi authorities have stated they’ve already punished these liable 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 stated is an try to offer an impression the case is closed. Khashoggi’s youngsters have publicly stated they pardoned their father’s killers.
Erol Önderoğlu, a consultant of the Turkish chapter of Reporters With out Borders (RSF), attended the listening to and informed Al Jazeera no extra witnesses are prone to be heard by the court docket, and raised fears that the case may very well be quietly put aside as Turkey and Saudi Arabia search to fix political ties.
Earlier hearings have seen diplomats from a number of Western nations 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 immediately in entrance of the Saudi consulate with the attendance of each Turkish and US officers and a big media presence.
The power of the Turkish court docket to prosecute the Khashoggi homicide not solely has worldwide implications, but additionally raises questions of what journalists inside Turkey can count on for their very own security as properly, Önderoğlu stated.
“We’ve got multidimensional considerations. One is said to the dedication of the worldwide group, and now with this case, now we have considerations associated to the dedication of the Turkish authorities themselves,” he informed Al Jazeera.
“The truth that the court docket twice rejected requests from Hatice Cengiz and her lawyer to incorporate the US intelligence report, and the very fact the prosecutor too has given no signal of asking for that report, along with the concept that Turkey and Saudi Arabia are launching a reconciliation and the third anniversary of the homicide handed silently in Istanbul – that every one gives the look this case is not standard.”
“We are able to not fake the Khashoggi case is on the prime of the agenda,” he stated.