Why Khashoggi trial transfer from Turkey to Saudi worries rights groups
- A Turkish court has agreed to transfer the Khashoggi trial to Saudi Arabia
- Jamal Khashoggi was killed in 2018 by people said to be close to the Saudi regime
- Human rights groups have slammed the Turkish court’s decision
When Jamal Khashoggi, a writer for the Washington post who wrote critically of Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman, was killed by people close to the petrostate’s regime in October 2018 in Turkey, Istanbul promised a fair trial. Now, a Turkish court has agreed to transfer the trial of 26 accused to Saudi Arabia even as human rights groups warn that the Saudi judicial system, for its lack of independence, may be unable to do justice in the case.
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Last week, the prosecutor in the case recommended to a Turkish court that the trial be transferred to the Saudis because it would remain inconclusive in Turkey. Turkey’s justice minister came out in support of the recommendation. Bekir Bozdag, the minister, said the trial would resume in Turkey if the outcome of the proceedings in Saudi were unsatisfactory.
The decision of the Turkish court comes at a time when Turkey is attempting to improve its ties with the Saudi regime. Poised towards an economic downturn, Turkey is looking to improve its strained relations in the region. A section of media reports indicates that the improvement in relations is conditioned on Turkey transferring the case.
Human rights groups, however, think that the transfer would mean losing out on the possibility of bringing the killers to justice. “By transferring the case of a murder that was committed in its territory, Turkey will be knowingly and willingly sending the case back into the hands of those who bare its responsibility,” said Agnes Calliamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International.
She further asked: “What has happened to Turkey’s declared commitment that justice must prevail for the gruesome murder and that this case would never become a pawn in political calculations and interest.”
Human Rights Watch, a New York-based rights group, said, “Given the complete lack of judicial independence in Saudi Arabia, the role of the Saudi government in Khashoggi’s killing, its past attempts at obstructing justice, and a criminal justice system that fails to satisfy basic standards of fairness, chances of a fair trial for the Khashoggi case in Saudi Arabia are close to nil.”