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Khashoggi son welcomes Saudi court verdict, Turkey slams it

Khashoggi

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia | AFP |  The son of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi welcomed a court verdict Monday that saw five people sentenced to death over the killing, saying justice had been served.

“Fairness of the judiciary is based on two principles, justice and swift litigation,” Salah Khashoggi, who lives in the kingdom, said on Twitter.

“Today, justice was served to children of… Jamal Khashoggi. We affirm our confidence in the Saudi judiciary at all levels.”

Khashoggi — a royal family insider turned critic — was killed and dismembered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.

The operation involved 15 agents sent from Riyadh, Ankara said. His remains were never found.

Of 11 individuals indicted in the case, five were sentenced to death, three face jail terms totalling 24 years, and the others were acquitted, the public prosecutor said on Monday.

Salah has previously said he had “full confidence” in the judicial system, and criticised opponents he said were seeking to exploit the case.

The Washington Post reported in April that Khashoggi’s children, including Salah, had received multimillion-dollar homes and were being paid thousands of dollars per month by authorities.

But Salah rejected the report, denying discussing a financial settlement with the Saudi government.

Both the CIA and a UN special envoy have directly linked de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the murder, a charge the kingdom denies.

In Ankara,  Turkey lashed out as “scandalous” a verdict over the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying those responsible for the murder had been granted immunity.

Five people were sentenced to death and others were handed jail terms but two top figures were cleared of involvement in the murder in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Turkey fuelled international outrage at the 59-year-old Washington Post contributor’s death by releasing video footage that contradicted Saudi Arabia’s initial denial of involvement.

“Those who dispatched a death squad to Istanbul on a private jet… and sought to sweep this murder under the rug have been granted immunity,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s top press aide, Fahrettin Altin, wrote on Twitter.

Turkish officials said at the time a 15-strong group of killers strangled him and cut his body into pieces. His remains were never found.

Saudi Arabia has said that the killing was carried out by “rogue” elements.

“To claim that a handful of intelligence operatives committed this murder is to mock the world’s intelligence,” Altin wrote.

“Turkey will continue its efforts to shed light on this incident.”

Khashoggi had gone to the Saudi consulate on October 2 last year to obtain paperwork for his wedding to Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz.

“I find it unacceptable and far from rules of law,” she told AFP, referring to the Saudi sentencing.

The Turkish foreign ministry said the verdict was “far from meeting the expectations of both our country and the international community to shed light on the murder with all its dimensions and deliver justice”.

The ministry also said key aspects of the murder, including the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body, were “left in the dark”, which the ministry said was a “fundamental deficiency” in terms of accountability.

“It is not only a legal but also a conscientious responsibility to shed light on this murder committed in our territory and to punish all those responsible,” added the ministry.

It reiterated Turkey’s expectation of judicial cooperation from Saudi authorities.

Turkey’s ties with Saudi Arabia came under strain after the brutal murder, which tarnished the international reputation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

 

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