Istanbul, Turkey, Oct 2 – Global rights groups called Friday for an international enquiry to establish the truth behind the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul’s Saudi consulate two years ago.
A few dozen people, including the The Washington Post contributor’s friends, held a protest vigil outside the walled compound where the 59-year-old was strangled and cut into pieces by a Saudi hit squad on October 2, 2018.
“A travesty of justice was shown by verdicts that lack transparency and that fell well short of bringing those who issued the hit order to account,” Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in a joint statement distributed outside the consulate.
Last month, a Saudi court overturned five death sentences handed to unnamed Saudis after a closed-door trial, jailing them for 20 years instead.
The verdict drew condemnation from across the world, including Turkey, which is conducting its own probe into a case that has tarnished the image of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and strained ties between Ankara and Riyadh.
“We all know Jamal’s killers,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s press aide Fahrettin Altun tweeted Friday.
“Let’s make them pay: Send the Saudi henchmen to Turkey. Let them appear in a public court with international observers.”
Erdogan has never directly blamed Prince Mohammed for the murder, but has said the order came from “the highest levels” of the government in Riyadh.
– G20 appeal –
In July, an Istanbul court began to try in absentia 20 Saudis, including two former aides to Prince Mohammed. And last month, Turkish prosecutors indicted six new Saudis suspected of involvement in the murder.
Erdogan’s aide Altun said Turkey’s probe into the killing was “the only investigation that was ever intended to shed light on what happened”.
Amnesty International and RSF called the Istanbul trial an “opportunity” to discover who ordered Khashoggi’s death.
“Justice has not been served for two years,” said Turan Kislakci, who now heads the Turkish-Media Association to which Khashoggi belonged.
“Let’s say you (Riyadh) hold the criminals… but where’s the body?”
RSF also called on member states of the G20 to push for press freedom improvements in Saudi Arabia before attending a summit of the world organisation in Riyadh in November.
Turkish-French RSF representative Erol Onderoglu said it was a “paradox” to give the rotating G20 presidency to Saudi Arabia, adding: “This kind of approach will discredit the global search for justice.”