- BBC News World
The trial in Turkey of 26 Saudi citizens accused of participating in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi ended on Thursday.
A Turkish court has said the case will be passed on to Saudi Arabia, which has refused to extradite those suspected of killing and concealing the body of the Saudi journalist from the Washington Post.
Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul in 2018. His death at the hands of Saudi agents sparked global outrage.
Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz said she will continue to fight for justice.
Thursday’s decision comes after Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag accepted the prosecutor’s request to halt the trial. on the grounds that it was hampered by the absence of 26 citizens accused.
The prosecutor said Saudi authorities had promised to assess the charges.
However, the move has been criticized by human rights activists, who claim it is a cover-up to avoid prosecuting the accused.
Amnesty International’s delegate in Turkey, Milena Buyum, defined it as“a shocking and clearly political decision”.
Outside the courthouse, Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancée, told reporters she would appeal the decision, AFP news agency reported.
“My fight for justice for Jamal is not over. The courts have decided they can ignore the truth about your case, but I won’t stop and keep silent about it. We all know who is guilty of Jamal’s murder and it’s now more important than ever that I move forward,” she tweeted.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said the decision appeared to stem from a “diplomatic rapprochement” between Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
The unfolding of these events comes at a time when Turkey may be seeking repair its relations with Saudi Arabia.
Relations between the two regional powers deteriorated significantly after Khashoggi’s assassination and led to an unofficial Saudi boycott of Turkish exports.
The assassination drew international condemnation and sparked a diplomatic crisis between Saudi Arabia and some of its closest allies, including the United States.
A premeditated murder
Jamal Khashoggi, critic of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad bin Salmanwas last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, where he had gone to collect documents needed to marry his fiancée.
The UN special rapporteur at the time, Agnès Callamard, concluded that Jamal Khashoggi was“brutally murdered” inside the consulate building by a team of 15 agents sent from Riyadh, the Saudi capital, and that his body was dismembered.
Callamard came to this conclusion after listening to alleged audio recordings of conversations inside the consulate collected by Turkish intelligence.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that Khashoggi was “murdered in cold blood by a death squad” sent from Riyadh, and said that “it had been established that his murder was premeditated“.
US intelligence agencies have concluded that Mohammad bin Salmanthe de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, approved an operation to capture or kill Khashoggi.
The prince denied playing a role and Saudi prosecutors accused the agents of “thugs”.
A year after the killing, a Saudi court found five people guilty of direct involvement in the killing and handed down death sentences that were later commuted to 20 years in prison.
Three other people were imprisoned for seven to ten years for covering up the crime.
Turkey dismissed the result as ‘scandalous’ and for nearly two years an Istanbul court tried in absentia the 26 Saudi citizens accused of committing the murder or withholding evidence – and whose case is now in the hands of Saudi Arabia.
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