Turkish Prosecutor Asks To Transfer Khashoggi Trial to Saudi Arabia
A Turkish prosecutor on Thursday asked to halt the two-year-old trial in absentia of 26 Saudi suspects over the killing of journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul and transfer the case to Saudi authorities. The request comes as Turkey is making a full-court press to improve relations with Saudi Arabia, which deteriorated further following Khashoggi’s murder. Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian citizen, entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, to collect documents for his upcoming marriage. He was never seen leaving the consulate. His fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, sounded the alarm when Khashoggi did not return from his appointment. Turkish media later reported that Khashoggi was strangled shortly after he entered the consulate and that his body was dismembered and disposed of. Saudi officials called the killing rogue, though many, including the United States, believe that it was approved by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman; Khashoggi was a vocal critic of the prince, the de facto Saudi ruler, known as MBS. A Saudi Arabian court in September 2020 handed down prison terms for eight unidentified defendants accused of involvement in the killing. Five defendants who had been condemned to die before having their death sentences commuted were given prison terms of 20 years. One defendant was sentenced to 10 years and the final two were given seven years. The Saudis had asked for the trial in Turkey to be transferred to the kingdom in order to avoid a double punishment for those already sentenced in Saudi Arabia. A new hearing has been set for April 7.