Turkey, which is seeking to reconnect with Riyadh which it needs to support its struggling economy, has apparently decided to end the case of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist murdered and dismembered in 2018 in Istanbul.
The prosecutor of the Istanbul court, before which the trial in absentia of twenty-six Saudi nationals accused of the crime has been held since 2020, asked Thursday March 31 to “close” the file and transfer it to Saudi Arabia.
According to the private Turkish news agency DHA, the prosecutor defended his position by arguing that “the case drags on because the orders of the court cannot be executed, the defendants being foreign nationals”.
On Twitter, Mr. Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, pointed out that the prosecutor was following a request from the Saudi authorities. In a recent interview with Agence France-Presse, Mr.me Cengiz urged Turkey, his country, to ‘Insist on justice’ and not to give up the benefit of a rapprochement with Ryad.
For Erol Önderoglu, representative of Reporters Without Borders in Turkey, “transferring the file to Riyadh, where the world has already witnessed a charade of justice, is terrible news for those who want justice for the journalist”. “RSF encourages the Turkish Ministry of Justice to oppose this request filed on March 13 by Saudi Arabia”he insists, noting that “The Khashoggi dossier seems this time a victim of the diplomatic rapprochement between Turkey and the kingdom” Saudi.
The trial opened before the Istanbul court in July 2020, in the absence of the twenty-six defendants. The next hearing remains for the time scheduled for April 7.
The 59-year-old Saudi journalist, critic of the power of the Saudi royal family and collaborator of the washington post, was murdered and his body cut up on October 2, 2018 inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, where he had gone to obtain a document, according to Turkey. That day, Mr.me Cengiz was waiting for him in the street, in front of the premises. But Mr. Khashoggi never reappeared and his remains were never found.
Ankara seeks rapprochement with Riyadh
This affair poisons relations between the two Sunni regional powers. But Ankara, in the grip of an economic crisis and inflation at its highest for twenty years (nearly 55% over the last twelve months), has been seeking a rapprochement with Riyadh for several months. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced an imminent visit to Saudi Arabia in early January – which has not taken place to date.
In a television interview on Thursday morning, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu acknowledged that “important steps towards the normalization of relations [avec l’Arabie saoudite] are in class “. “Judicial cooperation has reached a better level”he added.
Having multiplied initiatives for several months to renew ties with several regional powers, Mr. Erdogan declared at the beginning of December that he wanted to develop Ankara’s relations with the Gulf countries, ” without distinction “.
Relations between Ankara and Riyadh deteriorated in 2017 during the blockade of Qatar, a close ally of Turkey, decreed by Saudi Arabia and followed by the Emirates.