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RSF slams ‘political’ justice in Turkey over Khashoggi murder

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A day before a Turkish probe resumes into the killing of Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Reporters Without Borders on Monday slammed political influence on Ankara’s judicial system, Agence France-Presse reported.

In a statement, RSF urged Turkey to bring to justice all those involved in the killings of Khashoggi and another prominent journalist “and to take immediate steps to end impunity.”

Tuesday marks the fifth sitting of an İstanbul court on Khashoggi’s killing in October 2018 at the Saudi consulate in İstanbul, with 26 Saudi suspects being tried in absentia.

In March, the court refused to admit as evidence a declassified US report saying Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the killing.

RSF noted that the court, which began hearing the case 16 months ago, has rejected requests by Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz to accept the US intelligence.

The NGO added: “The fact that the prosecution and the court have not yet pursued any possible traces linking the murder to the Saudi Crown Prince is worrisome to the prospects of justice being served and calls into question whether the Turkish judiciary will indeed be able to ensure justice free from any political influence.”

The court has to date heard testimony from three Turkish employees at the consulate where Khashoggi, a regime insider-turned-critic who wrote for The Washington Post, was killed and dismembered after going to obtain documentation for his wedding to Cengiz.

The NGO also noted that Wednesday will bring the latest hearing into the case of Musa Anter, an editorial writer with Özgür Gündem, an İstanbul newspaper mainly read by Kurds.

Anter was killed in 1992 and the statute of limitations into his unsolved death runs out next year.

RSF said that “justice has not been served” in the case, adding that “the Turkish state recognized its involvement in Anter’s murder and expressed its regret in 1998, but nonetheless, justice is still unlikely to be rendered.

“The Anter murder case serves as a concrete indication that the judicial process in Turkey has been politically influenced,” RSF said, adding some 40 journalists have been killed or have disappeared in Turkey since 1990.

Earlier this year, RSF placed Turkey 153rd out of 180 nations on its Press Freedom Index for 2021.

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