The Turkish President, Tayyip Erdogan, has left no stone unturned in ensuring that the killers of the renowned Saudi critic and journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, will not circumvent justice. KINGSLEY OPURUM examines Turkey’s handling of the case so far.
President Tayyip Erdogan vowed recently that Turkey would not allow those responsible for the killing of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, to avoid justice, from those who ordered it to those who carried it out.
“We are determined not to allow a cover-up of this murder and to make sure all those responsible – from those who ordered it to those who carried it out – will not be allowed to avoid justice,” Erdogan said at a speech in Ankara.
He said some people had been uncomfortable with him sharing evidence regarding the investigation into the killing in his speech recently.
“We will continue to share new evidence transparently with our counterparts to enlighten the dark sides of this murder,” he said.
Also, Turkish prosecutors have prepared an extradition request for 18 suspects from Saudi Arabia in the killing of Khashoggi, after President Erdogan urged Riyadh to disclose who ordered the murder.
Erdogan has, in recent days, stepped up pressure on Saudi Arabia to come clean in the case, and western governments have also voiced increasing skepticism, pitching the world’s top oil exporter and a pivotal Middle East ally into a worsening crisis.
Erdogan said Turkey had more information than it had shared so far about the killing of Khashoggi, a Saudi national and Washington Post columnist, who was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
Khashoggi, who lived in the United States, was a critic of Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler.
Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor last week said that the killing of Khashoggi was premeditated, contradicting a previous official statement that it happened accidentally during a tussle in the consulate.
Riyadh’s numerous shifting accounts of the killing have undermined Prince Mohamed’s stance in the West.
Turkish prosecutors seeking the extradition accuse the 18 of “murder by premeditation, monstrous intent or by torture”. Riyadh previously arrested the 18 as part of its investigation into the case.
Those include a 15-man security team that Turkey says flew in hours before the killing and carried it out.
“Who gave this order?” Erdogan asked in a speech to members of his AK Party in Ankara. “Who gave the order for 15 people to come to Turkey?” he said.
Saudi officials initially denied having anything to do with Khashoggi’s disappearance after he entered the consulate, which he had visited to obtain paperwork for a planned marriage.
“The reason behind the extradition request is that Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in Turkey by Saudi nationals who travelled to Turkey for this specific purpose,” a senior Turkish official said.
“It is clear that the judicial system in Turkey is better equipped to genuinely serve the cause of justice in this case.”
Saudi Arabia has also sacked five senior government officials as part of the investigation. Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, said she did not accept an invitation from US President Donald Trump to visit the White House after Khashoggi’s murder because she thought it was aimed at influencing public opinion in his own favour.
In her first television interview since the killing, Cengiz recounted the events leading up to their visit to the consulate on October 2 where Khashoggi handed her his two mobile phones and went inside while she waited outside for him to emerge.
“Trump invited me to the United States but I perceived it as a statement to win public favour,” Cengiz told broadcaster, Haberturk, pausing at times during an interview and more than once breaking down in tears.
Cengiz said Khashoggi was concerned tensions would arise when he visited the consulate for the first time on September 28, but he was treated well at that visit, which appeared to reassure him, she said.
“He thought Turkey is a safe country and if he would be held or interrogated, this issue would be swiftly solved,” she said.
How western allies deal with Riyadh will hinge on the extent to which they believe responsibility for Khashoggi’s death lies directly with Prince Mohamed and the Saudi authorities.
Prince Mohamed, who casts himself as a reformer, has said the killers will be brought to justice.
Turkish sources say authorities have an audio recording documenting the murder. It was revealed that US CIA Director, Gina Haspel, heard the audio during a visit to Turkey recently, and has briefed Trump about Turkey’s findings and her discussions.
Separately, Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, has said that Saudi Arabia would not have murdered Khashoggi without American protection.
But President Donald Trump said that Saudi authorities staged the “worst cover-up ever” in the killing of Khashoggi and the United States vowed to revoke the visas of some of those believed to be responsible.
It has been reported that Erdogan has shared information about the killing of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, with Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.
The reports said that during a phone call last Friday, Erdogan and Trudeau agreed on the need for “all aspects of the murder” to be revealed for the killers being held accountable.
The officials from Erdogan’s office provided the information on condition of anonymity, in line with regulations.
Meanwhile, Trudeau has said he wouldn’t hesitate to freeze arms export permits concerning Saudi Arabia. He didn’t say if Canada would cancel a 2014 multi-billion dollar deal to supply light-armored vehicles to the Saudis.
Canada’s previous government made the deal. Saudi Arabia had a diplomatic dispute with Canada this summer over the Saudi arrest of women’s rights activists.
In the same vein, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said that her country was not ready to export arms to Saudi Arabia until the killing of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, was properly investigated.
Speaking in Prague through a translator after meeting her Czech counterpart, Andrej Babis, Merkel said it was necessary to clarify the background of the crime that took place in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
Merkel stated that Germany has made it clear that until then, “we won’t deliver any arms to Saudi Arabia.”
It is worthy of note that Turkey has been commended for its efforts so far in unmasking the killers of the Saudi journalist and the real truth behind the assassination.
The weighty question is, will Trump collaborate with Erdogan to ensure that the killers of Jamal Khashoggi are brought to justice, knowing full well that Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, who’s US President’s ally might have a hand in the murder?
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