Amnesty International on Friday slammed any decision by Turkey to transfer the Istanbul trial of 26 suspects in the 2018 murder of Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi to Riyadh.
Khashoggi, a 59-year-old Washington Post contributor, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018 in a murder that shocked the world and continues to have ramifications today.
Relations between Ankara and Riyadh deteriorated significantly after the killing, but Turkey has since sought to reestablish ties with Saudi Arabia to bolster its economy.
“By transferring the case (…), Turkey will knowingly and voluntarily return the case to those who bear responsibility for it,” Amnesty Secretary General Agnès Callamard said in a statement.
A Turkish prosecutor on Thursday requested the transfer of the trial of 26 Saudi officials in absentia after an apparent request from the kingdom. The prosecutor argued the case was dragging on because court orders could not be enforced since the defendants were foreigners, the private DHA news agency reported.
But Amnesty’s Callamard said the Saudi system “has repeatedly failed to cooperate with the Turkish prosecutor and it is clear that justice cannot be served by a Saudi court”.
Five people were sentenced to death for Khashoggi’s murder, but a Saudi court in September 2020 overturned them while sentencing eight unnamed defendants to prison terms of up to 20 years following secret court proceedings.