Khashoggi: Turkish prosecutor requests relocation of the trial to Saudi Arabia

A Turkish Prosecutors on Thursday called for the trial in Istanbul of Saudi suspects over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi to be halted and transferred there Saudi authorities, a move that comes as Turkey seeks to repair ties with Riyadh.

The assassination of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul four years ago sparked a global outcry and put Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, under pressure.

A US intelligence report released a year ago said the prince authorized the operation to kill or capture Khashoggi, but the Saudi government denied any involvement of the crown prince and dismissed the report’s findings. The Turkish court also previously rejected requests for the report to be placed on the file.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in October 2018.

Turkish officials said they believe Khashoggi, a prominent critic of the crown prince, was killed and his body dismembered in an operation that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said was ordered at “the highest level” of the Saudi government.

The murder and subsequent allegations strained relations between the two regional powers and led to an unofficial Saudi boycott of Turkish goods that has cut Ankara’s exports to the kingdom by 90%.

Erdogan is now seeking better relations with states that have become bitter rivals in recent years, including Egypt, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Israeli and UAE leaders have visited Ankara in recent months, but progress on Cairo and Riyadh has been slower. Erdogan said last month he hopes to take “concrete steps” with Saudi Arabia soon.

The court in Istanbul, where the 26 Saudi suspects have been trying in absentia for nearly two years, said Thursday it would seek the Justice Ministry’s opinion on the transfer request and schedule the next hearing for April 7.

In 2020, Saudi Arabia jailed eight people for between seven and 20 years for the murder of Khashoggi. At the time, Ankara said the ruling fell short of expectations but has since softened its tone as part of a broader attempt to repair ties.

The Turkish court in November requested details from Saudi authorities, who had not named the suspects convicted in Riyadh, to avoid punishing the accused twice.

Turkish prosecutors said the Saudi authorities responded by asking the case to be referred to them and the so-called Red Notices against the accused lifted.

Riyadh also pledged to look into the allegations against the 26 defendants if the case were transferred, the prosecutor said.

The prosecutor said the motion should be accepted because the defendants are foreign nationals who cannot execute arrest warrants and red orders and their testimonies cannot be taken, causing the case to stay or stay.

Defender Ali Ceylan said he had not seen the Saudi government’s response but would prepare a statement if he did.

The Crown Prince told The Atlantic in an article published this month that he felt his own rights had been violated by the allegations against him, as everyone should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Khashoggi: Turkish prosecutor requests relocation of the trial to Saudi Arabia

Chris Estrada

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