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Jamal Khashoggi: Call for Turkey murder trial to be halted

A Turkish prosecutor has asked a court in Istanbul to halt the trial in absentia of 26 Saudi suspects over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

The prosecutor said the case should be transferred to Saudi Arabia.

Khashoggi, a US-based Saudi journalist, was a critic of the Saudi government and is believed to have been killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The court said it would ask the Turkish justice ministry for its opinion of the prosecutor’s request.

It said the next hearing in the case would be on 7 April.

The 26 officials face charges of premeditated murder or destroying evidence.

Saudi officials have said Khashoggi was killed in a “rogue operation” by a team of agents sent to persuade him to return to the kingdom.

But a United Nations investigator, Agnès Callamard, concluded that he was “the victim of a deliberate, premeditated execution” and said there was credible evidence that high-level Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, were involved. The crown prince denied playing any role.

In December 2019, the Riyadh Criminal Court sentenced five people to death for “committing and directly participating in the murder of the victim”.

However, the sentences were later commuted to 20-year jail terms.

The Saudi authorities had asked to take over the Turkish case. The prosecutor said their request should be accepted because the defendants were foreign citizens, the arrest warrants could not be executed and their statements could not be taken.

Media caption,

British barrister Helena Kennedy and UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard describe the Jamal Khashoggi secret tapes

Khashoggi, who went into self-imposed exile in the US in 2017, was last seen entering the consulate on 2 October 2018. He was attempting to obtain papers he needed to marry his Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz.

A report by Ms Callamard published in 2019 said Khashoggi was “brutally slain” inside the consulate that day. She made that judgement after listening to purported audio recordings of conversations inside the consulate made by Turkish intelligence.

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