Turkey suspends trial for 26 Saudis connected to killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi

The trial will be transferred to Saudi Arabia.

Updated: April 7, 2022 - 7:51am

A Turkish court ruled Thursday to suspend the trial in absentia of the 26 Saudis accused of participating in the plot to kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The court's decision will also send the case to Saudi Arabia.

Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and Washington Post columnist who wrote critically about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was murdered in October 2018 at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. He had gone to the consulate to pick up documents required for his pending marriage and never emerged.

Turkish officials alleged Khashoggi was killed, then cut up with a bone saw by a team of Saudi agents that included a forensic doctor and intelligence and security officers. His body has never been recovered.

The Turkish court's decision arrives despite warnings from human rights groups that handing the case to the Saudis will likely lead to a cover up of the murder. The move also occurs as Turkey attempts to repair its relationship with Saudi Arabia, which has been rocky since the 2011 Arab Spring, which saw Turkey support Islamist rebel movements like the Muslim Brotherhood, which Saudi Arabia believes to be a terrorist group. 

Turkish prosecutors have suggested that the case be transferred to Saudi Arabia, arguing that the trial in Turkey will yield inconclusive results. The justice minister of Turkey concurred with the recommendation and added that the trial in Turkey could resume if the court is not satisfied with the outcome of the Saudi proceedings. It is, however, unclear whether Saudi Arabia will open a new trial at all – some defendants are already being tried behind closed doors.

Khashoggi's fiancé says she will continue to seek justice for the crime.

"We will continue this (judicial) process with all the power given to me, as a Turkish citizen," she told reporters outside the courthouse. "The two countries may be making an agreement, the two countries may be opening a new chapter ... but the crime is still the same crime."

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