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Fiancée petitions Turkey’s top court over transfer of Khashoggi trial to Saudi Arabia

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The fiancée of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has petitioned Turkey’s Constitutional Court regarding a decision by Turkey to halt the murder trial in absentia of 26 suspects linked to the killing and transfer it to Riyadh, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported on Tuesday.

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 resorted to the top court after appeals her lawyer filed at higher courts, the İstanbul 12th High Criminal Court and the Ankara 14th Administrative Court, objecting to the İstanbul 11th High Criminal Court’s decision to transfer the murder trial of Khashoggi to Riyadh, were rejected later in April.

In her petition, she asked the top court to make a decision against the halt of the Khashoggi trial in Turkey and its transfer to Saudi Arabia. Cengiz said she is filing an individual application at the top court because she has exhausted all other legal remedies.

Cengiz claimed that the court decisions about the murder trial of the slain journalist run against the 17th Article of the Turkish Constitution and Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which concern the right to life, as well as Article 3 of the convention, which is about the prohibition of torture.

Following the İstanbul court’s decision in April, 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 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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