Mar 31, 2022 - World

Turkish prosecutor wants Khashoggi murder trial moved to Saudi Arabia

A person holds a candle in front of a poster of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
People hold posters picturing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and lightened candles during a gathering outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, on October 25, 2018. Photo: Yasin AKGUL / AFP via Getty Images

A Turkish prosecutor on Thursday requested that the trial of Saudi suspects accused of killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi be moved to Saudi Arabia, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: If granted, the surprise request would suspend the trial of 26 Saudi nationals who were charged in the 2018 slaying of Khashoggi, a contributing columnist for the Washington Post, and transfer the proceedings to Saudi Arabia, whose Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was linked to the murder.

Background: Khashoggi disappeared on Oct. 2, 2018, after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. He never emerged.

  • Turkish officials said that Khashoggi, a Saudi national who was a U.S. resident and a prominent critic of the Saudi crown prince, was killed and dismembered inside the building by Saudi agents.
  • Afterwards, Saudi officials claimed that Khashoggi left the consulate alive. Facing mounting international pressure, they later said that Khashoggi’s death was a tragic accident.

Judges presiding over the case in Turkey did not immediately rule on the prosecutor's request. However, they said they would refer the matter to Turkey’s Justice Ministry, the Post reported.

  • Turkey had been trying the 26 defendants in absentia after Saudi Arabia rejected earlier demands for their extradition.
  • The prosecutor told the court that Saudi officials requested the transfer proceedings.
  • In 2020, a Saudi court issued a verdict against some of the men, sentencing five defendants to 20-year terms. Three others received lesser sentences.

What she’s saying: Khashoggi's fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, tweeted in response to the news Thursday: “It is an exemplary situation in terms of showing the dilemma facing humanity in the modern era. Which of the two will we choose? To want to live like a virtuous human being or to build a life by holding material interests above all kinds of values.”

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