Turkey to continue to uncover the truth on Khashoggi killing
Ankara will continue efforts to shed light on the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Turkey’s communications director said after a "scandalous" Saudi court ruling on the case on Dec. 23.
"The Saudi court reached a scandalous verdict today after months of secret hearings on the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi," Fahrettin Altun said on Twitter.
A Saudi court on Dec. 23 sentenced five people to death for taking part in the murder of Khashoggi in a trial of 11 people.
Saudi Deputy Public Prosecutor and spokesman Shalaan al-Shalaan said three people had been handed jail terms totaling 24 years in prison for their role in covering up the crime and violating the law.
Al-Shalaan said the court dismissed charges against three other suspects and found them not guilty, including former royal adviser Saud al-Qahtani, former consul general in Istanbul Mohammed al-Oteibi and Ahmed Assiri, the former intelligence deputy chief.
Altun blasted the verdict, which he said "granted immunity" for perpetrators who "dispatched a death squad to Istanbul on a private jet", "signed Khashoggi's death warrant", disposed of his body and sought to sweep the murder "under the rug".
"To claim that a handful of intelligence operatives committed this murder is to mock the world’s intelligence — to say the least. Turkey will continue its efforts to shed light on this incident," he stressed.
'Saudis aim is to silence the accused'
Meanwhile, Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi's fiancee, said that the death penalty verdict aims to close the case "quickly" and silence those carrying information about the murder.
Speaking to state-run Anadolu Agency, Cengiz said the verdict came without proper judicial process and that the statements of the accused were kept secret.
Cengiz's statement came following a Saudi court ruling sentencing five people to death for taking part in the murder.
"This verdict is unacceptable and it is against the law. I believe that closing the case fast is aimed with those verdicts," she stressed.
Cengiz added: "The [Saudi] announcement does not respond to the questions why it was done, who ordered it and where is the body, which have been asked for the last 15 months. The answers must be given to make the verdict acceptable. It is not possible to sentence people without answering those questions. I definitely do not accept it."
Urging the international community to act to ensure justice and to reject the Saudi court's sentences, she said: "The greatest political pressure possible is needed on the country in question."
Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post and U.S. resident, was murdered after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018 on a visit to pick up paperwork for his forthcoming marriage.
Following 18 days of denial of the murder by Riyadh, Saudi authorities said he was killed in a fight that erupted between him and 18 Saudis, and detained them for investigation without giving further details on the killing or the whereabouts of his remains.
U.N. Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard concluded in an earlier report that Khashoggi's murder was a “deliberate, premeditated execution” and encouraged an investigation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Saudi officials, however, have insisted that the Saudi prince was not involved in the murder.
Callamard also slammed Saudi Arabia court rulings, saying it is a "mockery."
"Bottom line: the hit-men are guilty, sentenced to death. The masterminds not only walk free, they have barely been touched by the investigation and the trial," Callamard said on Twitter.
"That is the antithesis of Justice. It is a mockery."
She reiterated that the Saudi kingdom was responsible for Khashoggi's execution under international human rights law, adding that the trial in Riyadh "at no point" considered the Kingdom's responsibilities.
Callamard also said Riyadh did not investigate the role of bin Salman, adding the judge appeared to have concluded that the Khashoggi death was "an accident since there seems to be no intent".
"To suggest that on the spare of the moment, the killers decided to cut down his body is utterly ridiculous. Dismemberment requires minimum planning," she wrote.
Callamard said that the presence of a forensic doctor and discussing dismemberment 2 hours before it actually occurred, indicates planning.
"Impunity for the killing of a journalist commonly reveals political repression, corruption, abuse of power, propaganda, and even international complicity. All are present in Saudi Arabia killing of Jamal Khashoggi," Callamard added.