Amnesty International on Friday lambasted any move by Turkey to transfer the Istanbul trial of 26 suspects in the 2018 murder of Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi to Riyadh, Agence France-Presse reported.
Khashoggi, a 59-year-old contributor to The Washington Post, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in İstanbul on October 2, 2018 in a murder that shocked the world and continues to have ramifications today.
Ankara-Riyadh relations worsened significantly after the killing but Turkey has since sought to mend ties with Saudi Arabia to bolster its economy.
“By transferring the case… Turkey will be knowingly and willingly sending the case back into hands of those who bear its responsibility,” Amnesty’s Secretary General Agnes Callamard said in a statement.
A Turkish prosecutor on Thursday asked to transfer the trial of 26 Saudi officials in absentia after an apparent request by the kingdom.
The prosecutor argued the case was “dragging” because the court’s orders could not be fulfilled since the defendants were foreigners, the private news agency DHA reported.
But Amnesty’s Callamard said the Saudi system “repeatedly failed to cooperate with the Turkish prosecutor and it is clear that justice cannot be delivered by a Saudi court”.
The next hearing in the Turkish case is expected on April 7.
Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said on Friday his ministry would give a “positive opinion” on any transfer of the case to Saudi Arabia.
Five people were handed death sentences over Khashoggi’s killing but a Saudi court in September 2020 overturned them while giving jail terms of up to 20 years to eight unnamed defendants following secretive legal proceedings.