Turkish Court Halts Khashoggi Trial, Transfers It to Saudi Arabia
A Turkish court on Thursday announced that it has halted 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 transferred the case to Saudi authorities. The announcement of the decision to transfer the trial to the Saudis comes as Turkey is making a full-court press to improve relations with Saudi Arabia, which deteriorated further following Khashoggi’s murder. But defense attorneys in the case say that the suspects will not get a fair trial in Saudi Arabia, AFP reported, and Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, said that she would appeal the decision. 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 Saudi Arabian court in September 2020 handed down prison terms for eight unidentified defendants accused of involvement in the killing. 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. 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.