Turkey sends Jamal Khashoggi file to Saudi Arabia

Hatice Cengiz, the fiancée of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, outside the courthouse, in Istanbul, Turkey, April 7, 2022.

Turkey deleted the cumbersome Khashoggi file on Thursday, April 7 by returning it to Saudi Arabia, more than three years after the tragic murder of the Saudi journalist in Istanbul. Hatice Cengiz, the fiancée of Jamal Khashoggi, who was waiting for him outside the Saudi consulate on the day of the murder, October 2, 2018, immediately announced his lawyers’ decision to appeal.

The final hearing of the trial in absentia opened in July 2020 of twenty-six accused Saudis lasted a few minutes before the Istanbul court judge pronounced the decision to close the case. The tension was very limited: the Turkish Minister of Justice, Bekir Bozdag, had given a positive advice at the request of the public prosecutor, who “close and move the file” in Riyadh.

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The case polluted relationships

For Turkey, which wants to reconnect with the Saudi kingdom that it needs to support its struggling economy, it was urgent to end this affair that is polluting their relations.

“We are not ruled by a family here, like in Saudi Arabia. We have a justice system that responds to citizens’ grievances: as such, we will appeal.”quickly announced Cengiz to the press in court. For her, the Turkish Public Prosecutor complied with the “Saudi requirements”

We know full well that the authorities will not do anything. How can we imagine the killers themselves investigating?

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For one of his lawyers, Mr.and Gambling Baspinar, “this decision to transfer the file is against the law” and “constitutes a violation of Turkish sovereignty”“There are no prosecutions in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi authorities have already closed the trial and decided to acquit many of the suspects.”the defender remembers.

Human rights groups have in recent days denounced a top-notch funeral at the request of Saudi authorities, with the Khashoggi case posing the ultimate obstacle to rapprochement between the two Sunni regional powers.

Turkey sends a frightening signal

“The court agreed to hand the case over to Saudi Arabia just like that, in one sentence, without even… [prévenir] the lawyers of the rejection of their requests”was outraged about Twitter Milena Büyüm, an Amnesty International representative in Turkey.

For Erol Önderoglu, representative of Reporters Without Borders in Istanbul, this decision means: Turkey sends chilling signal about respect for press freedom

On October 2, 2018, the 59-year-old Saudi journalist, critical columnist for the American daily newspaper The Washington Postwas murdered and his body dismembered at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, where, according to Turkey, he came to ask for a document necessary for his marriage.

The Istanbul Prosecutor’s Office had defended its position by stating that: “the case drags on as the court orders cannot be carried out as the suspects are foreigners”

On the day of the murder, Mme Cengiz waited on the street for the victim, but her fiancé never appeared again and his remains were never found. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan then promised: ” do everything “ to solve the murder “Politics” and “premeditated”which he called “barbaric murder”

But Ankara, gripped by an economic crisis linked to the collapse of its currency and high inflation – more than 60% in the past 12 months – is moving closer to the Saudi monarchy.

The head of state, which for several months has been augmenting reconciliation initiatives with regional powers — including the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Israel — announced an imminent visit to Saudi Arabia in early January. However, he does not appear to have received an invitation yet.

A US intelligence report accuses Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of… “validated” the murder, carried out by a commando of agents from Saudi Arabia. After denying the murder, Riyadh eventually said it was committed by Saudi agents acting alone.

After an opaque trial in Saudi Arabia, five Saudis were sentenced to death and three to prison terms – the death sentences have since been commuted.

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Le Monde and AFP