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Fiancée appeals Turkey’s decision to transfer Khashoggi trial to Saudi Arabia

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The fiancée of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has appealed a Turkish court’s decision to transfer the murder trial to Riyadh, Turkish media outlets reported on Thursday.

The 59-year-old journalist was killed inside the Saudi Consulate General in İstanbul on Oct. 2, 2018 in a gruesome murder that shocked the world. Khashoggi went to the consulate to get papers for his upcoming marriage to his Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz.

On April 7 an İstanbul court confirmed a halt of the trial in absentia of 26 suspects linked to the killing of Khashoggi and its transfer to Riyadh, a decision that has angered rights groups.

Cengiz’s lawyer Gökmen Başpınar on Thursday petitioned the İstanbul 11th High Criminal Court, objecting to the court’s decision to transfer the murder trial of Khashoggi to Riyadh.

The lawyer said in the petition that the Khashoggi trial should never be transferred to any country, especially Saudi Arabia, for dozens of legal, moral and political reasons.

“Turkey cannot relinquish its sovereignty rights in this way. It is very obvious how this incident took place. … The esteemed court exercises its authority on behalf of the Turkish nation. The decision to transfer this trial … should not be a legacy that we will leave to our children and grandchildren,” the petition says.

Following the İstanbul court’s decision last week, Cengiz told reporters that she would continue her legal fight and would appeal the İstanbul court’s decision.

“Turkey “is not ruled by a family like in Saudi Arabia. We have a justice system that addresses citizens’ grievances,” she told journalists outside İstanbul’s main court.

“We will appeal the decision in line with our legal system.”

Speaking to AFP, she vowed to “continue to fight. Whoever gives up has given up. I will continue. Sometimes the legal battle itself is more important than the results.”

The İstanbul court began the trial in 2020 with relations tense between the two Sunni Muslim regional powers.

But with Turkey desperate for investment to help pull it out of economic crisis, Ankara has sought to heal the rift with Riyadh.

The judge told the court, “We have decided to halt and hand the case over to Saudi Arabia.”

The court decision came almost a week after Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said he would green-light a Turkish prosecutor’s request to hand the case over to Saudi Arabia, at the request of the latter.

The prosecutor said the case was “dragging” because the court’s orders could not be carried out since the defendants were foreigners.

Five people were handed down death sentences by the kingdom 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.

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