Khashoggi: Turkish prosecutor demands transfer of court to Saudi Arabia

Khashoggi’s murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul four years ago sparked outrage around the world and put pressure on Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

A US intelligence report released a year ago says the prince approved an operation to kill or capture Khashoggi, but the Saudi government denies any involvement of the crown prince and dismisses the report’s findings. The Turkish court had also previously rejected requests to add the report to the case file.

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

The assassination and subsequent allegations strained relations between the two regional powers and led to an unofficial Saudi boycott of Turkish goods, resulting in a 90% reduction in Ankara’s exports to the kingdom.

Erdogan is now seeking to forge ties 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 been visiting Ankara in recent months, but progress with Cairo and Riyadh has been slower. Last month, Erdogan said he hoped to take “concrete steps” with Saudi Arabia soon.

The Istanbul court, which has 26 Saudi suspects on trial in absentia for almost two years, said Thursday it would seek the Justice Department’s opinion on the request to postpone the trial and set the next hearing for April 7.

The Saudis sought the transfer

In 2020, Saudi Arabia sentenced eight people to prison terms ranging from seven to 20 years for killing Khashoggi. Ankara said at the time that the verdict fell short of expectations, but has since softened its tone as part of a broader attempt to mend relations.

In November, a Turkish court requested details from the Saudi Arabian authorities, who did not name the suspects sentenced in Riyadh to avoid double punishment of the defendants.

The Turkish prosecutor said the Saudi authorities responded by demanding that the case be handed over to them and that the so-called red notices be removed from the accused.

Riyadh also promised to evaluate the charges against the 26 defendants if the case goes forward, the prosecutor said.

The prosecutor said the request must be granted because the defendants are foreign nationals, arrest warrants and red notices cannot be executed and their testimony cannot be taken, leaving the case suspended or suspended.

Defense lawyer Ali Ceylan said he had not seen a response from the Saudi government but would prepare a statement when he did.

The Crown Prince told The Atlantic Monthly in an article published this month that he believes his own rights have been violated by the allegations against him, as any person should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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