On October 2, 2018, Jamal Khashoggi, a US-based journalist walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and he was never heard from again after he entered the Consulate.
He was last seen on CCTV footage entering the building at 13:14 local time.
On 20 October, the Saudi government said a preliminary investigation by prosecutors had concluded that the journalist died during a “fight” after resisting attempts to return him to Saudi Arabia. Later, a Saudi official attributed the death to a chokehold. But Saudi officials continued to give conflicting explanations of what happened – then-Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on 21 October that the exact cause of Khashoggi’s death was not known.
Turkish officials said 15 Saudi agents arrived in Istanbul in the days before the murder, and that the group removed the security cameras and surveillance footage from the consulate before Khashoggi’s arrival. Istanbul’s prosecutor, Irfan Fidan, said on 31 October that the journalist was suffocated almost as soon as entered the consulate, and that his body was dismembered and destroyed. Fidan is seeking the extradition of the 18 suspects arrested in Saudi Arabia.
Carrying out the investigation into the killing of Khashoggi, Turkey had a Red Notice issued by the Interpol against 20 people from the murder team. In Saudi Arabia, which refused the extradite the responsible persons to Turkey, four hearings were held in the trial where the defendants faced “capital punishment.” In Turkey, the suspects were investigated for “wilful killing with premeditation, monstrous feeling or by torment” as per the Articles 81 and 82/1-a-b of the Turkish Criminal Code (June 18).
At the first hearing held on July 3, Hatice Cengiz testified as the complainant, former Justice and Development Party (AKP) MP and Vice Chair Yasin Aktay and 7 consulate workers were heard as witnesses and the court ruled that 3 witnesses who did not come to the hearing should be brought by force. Ayman Nour from Egypt, a friend of Jamal Khashoggi, appeared before the court as a witness and testified (July 3).
Following the first hearing on July 3, the court ruled on September 28 that the second indictment lodged against 6 suspects, including 2 consulate personnel, should be merged with the main case file, which increased the number of people on trial to 26.
At the second hearing held on November 24, 2020, Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz, also the complainant of the trial, and her attorneys were present in court. 26 suspects who fled Turkey after the murder were represented by the attorneys appointed by the İstanbul Bar Association.
The court rejected the Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) request for involvement in the case on the grounds that “it was not directly aggrieved by the crime.” The next hearing will be held on March 4 (November 24).
At the hearing held on March 31, 2022, Saudi Arabia requested that the case file be handed over to them and the red notice on the defendants be removed. The prosecutor of the hearing pronounced an opinion as to the accusations in line with this request. The court board ruled that it should be asked to the Justice Ministry. Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said that they would answer this request in the affirmative and the approval came on April 1.
The hearing at the İstanbul 11th High Criminal Court was not attended by the 26 defendants facing warrants. Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of Khashoggi and the plaintiff of the case, and her lawyer were present at court. The court board gave its ruling. Halting the trial, it ruled that the file should be handed over to the judicial authorities in Saudi Arabia (April 7).
Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of Jamal Khashoggi, took the ruling of handing over the case to Saudi Arabia to the Constitutitonal Court (May 24).