Saudi Arabia may as well have murdered Jamal Khashoggi again - YASIN AKTAY

Saudi Arabia may as well have murdered Jamal Khashoggi again

Saudi Arabia’s Criminal Court has, for some time now, been carrying out the trial concerning the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. When the Chief Prosecutor’s Office announced the verdict of the case, the Khashoggi issue was reignited.

It was reignited because the verdicts announced by the chief prosecutor’s office were like a fresh murder on top of the original one. To this day, the investigation regarding 31 people continued with focus on 11 people; five were sentenced to death, three to a 24-year sentence in prison, while three were acquitted. The verdict reached was that the murder was not premeditated and planned, it happened as the result of the heat of the moment, that only the said five people were directly involved in the incident, and that the remaining one have no fault in relation to this incident.

Especially Saud al-Qahtani. As no evidence could be found to accuse him, charges weren’t pressed against him, let alone accuse the authority to which he obeys.

To add insult to injury, there is also no information with respect to the identities of these five men sentenced to death, neither the ones who were handed prison sentences.

As a matter of fact, right now, nobody knows where these convicted individuals are or which prison they are being held in. For example, would they have been asked what they did with Jamal Khashoggi’s body, and where they put it? If such a question was asked, was an answer received? There is no information regarding even this. Whereas, a court directly trying the persecutors in relation to this case should have primarily answered these questions.

As felt and expressed by many, this verdict is like mocking the human mind. Yet, only those who had the slightest expectation of a different decision should be surprised by this. Was it not crystal clear all the way in the beginning that there would be no objective trial in a judicial system, which is under the control of the likely suspects of this murder?

There is an swathe of evidence showing that the murder was premeditated. For example, it is beyond a doubt certain that the 15 people, as individuals with hierarchical dependence on Usairi and Qahtani, arrived with two special state-owned planes, and using an authority overriding all authorities of the consulate, committed this murder at the Consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul. Whatever the authority that would allow so many people to carry out such an extraordinary, irrational act at the consulate office is, it is there. Even if the identity of that authority was inquired after, the real culprit would be much higher up the food chain than those five sentenced to death.

Additionally, once it had become clear that the deed was indeed a murder, “a clean-up team under the highest echelon of the state” came and destroyed traces of the evidence like crazy in the eyes of the whole world. The fact that Turkish forensic scientists, who entered the consulate and residence after that clean-up, could not find anything noteworthy, should have been recorded and judged as a crime on its own, right?

Here, murder is a crime, but eliminating, tampering with and cleaning up evidence is an entirely different crime, and if it is not possible to reach a conclusion based on what happened during the murder, one could have at least been reached through the fact that evidence was blatantly tampered with.

Perhaps, beyond that incident, even when we consider the authority that has allowed such a verdict, we could catch a glimpse of the perpetrator.

Yet, of course, the court must actually want to catch the true perpetrator, right? The day the case was filed, the Chief Prosecutor wrote the accusations of the indictment bill not as such, but in the tone of a defense attorney. From the very beginning, it was specifically stated that Qahtani, Asiri and the crown prince had no connection to this murder; no accusations were made against them.

We had said that a court under such control could not yield an unbiased verdict.

One very clear fact concerning Khashoggi’s murder is that it was committed under the control, planning and means of the highest echelons of state. While it is inevitable for the highest echelons of the state to impact the judiciary as well, the verdict reached has also confirmed the reality that an impartial hearing is impossible in such a country: the Khashoggi case cannot be tried in the Saudi Arabian courts, whose sole concern is to about acquit certain figures and keeping them detached from the incident. If such an attempt is made, the outcome can be nothing far from this.

Yet, the incident took place on Turkey’s soil and due to this, as per Turkey’s sovereignty right, the case should have been tried in Turkey. Turkey has no prejudices against anybody. It is unequivocally impartial in terms of establishing justice. It does not pass any verdicts before cases are concluded. Though it says the likely suspects are required to be tried, it passes no prior verdict concerning them. I truly hope they are acquitted by an unbiased court.

As far as we know, the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office is continuing to collect evidence and compile the file. Of course, the last word will be said by those who are supposed to say it.

As a result, the Khashoggi case is one in which the world’s mind, conscience and intelligence is being tested. Nobody should dare think they can hoodwink their way out of this test.

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