Skip to main content

Turkey urged not to transfer Khashoggi murder trial to Saudi Arabia

Transferring the trial would reinforce the belief that Saudi authorities 'can get away with murder', says Human Rights Watch
Friends of Jamal Khashoggi hold posters bearing his picture as they attend a protest in front of Saudi Arabia's Istanbul consulate on 2 October 2020 (AFP)
By in
New York City

Human Rights Watch urged Turkey on Wednesday against transferring the trial of 26 Saudi nationals charged in killing Jamal Khashoggi to the kingdom, saying it would end any possibility of justice and reinforce "Saudi authorities' apparent belief that they can get away with murder."

Khashoggi, a Middle East Eye and Washington Post columnist, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October 2018, in a murder that shocked the world and which continues to have ramifications.

Ankara-Riyadh relations worsened significantly after the killing, but Turkey has since sought to mend ties with Saudi Arabia to bolster its economy.

"Transferring the Khashoggi trial from Turkey to Saudi Arabia would end any possibility of justice for him, and would reinforce Saudi authorities' apparent belief that they can get away with murder," said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. 

"Turkish authorities should reverse their decision and not contribute any further to entrenching Saudi impunity by handing over the Khashoggi case to the very people implicated in his murder."

Rights groups urge Turkey not to abandon Jamal Khashoggi's murder case
Read More »

A Turkish prosecutor asked an Istanbul court last Thursday to transfer the trial of the 26 Saudis after an apparent request by the kingdom.

The court is expected to convene on 7 April to review the prosecutor's request and make a decision over whether  to transfer the case.

For years, Riyadh has been pressuring Ankara to drop the trial and has claimed its own legal proceedings, in which 18 individuals were charged with involvement in the murder, were sufficient.

But according to the Guardian, at least three members of the Saudi hit squad were residing and working "in seven-star accommodation" at a government-run security compound in Riyadh.

Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi's fiancee, told MEE last week that she was shocked by the prosecutor's demand, and was very sad to see that things had reached this point.

However, earlier this year she had noted that the recent thaw in ties between Turkey and Saudi Arabia was a sign of the disappointment to come in her search for justice and closure.

"Turkey's regional realpolitik in resolving tensions with other countries shouldn't include sacrificing justice for Jamal Khashoggi," said Page.

"The decision to transfer the case will be a shameful indictment of the Turkish authorities’ willingness to whitewash assassinations by foreign governments on their territory."

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.