A UN official said Friday that Turkey is doing its part to bring justice for slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“I think Turkey is playing its role at the moment with the information it has collected,” Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, told reporters outside the Istanbul Court House, where the first hearing of Khashoggi case was held.
Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, was killed and dismembered by a group of Saudi operatives shortly after he entered the Saudi Arabian consulate Oct. 2, 2018 in Istanbul where he went to obtain marriage-related documents.
A 117-page indictment was prepared by Istanbul prosecutors that accused 20 Saudi nationals of involvement in the gruesome premeditated murder. It was accepted in April by Istanbul’s Heavy Penal Court No. 11.
“We are sending a very strong message to dictators around the world that they cannot get away with killing the journalists,” said Callamard. “So I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you have done for the last two years for Jamal and for all of the journalists whose life at risk because of their reporting,” she said, thanking journalists for closely following the case.
“The Saudi process was anything but justice. It was just a travesty of justice in my opinion. And it was a closed secret trial,” she said and noted that Friday’s hearing was important for taking the case to a formal platform.
In Turkey, she said, perpetrators are being accused, while victims are heard as well.
“Here we have a space where the victims are heard in a way they have never been heard before. We have a space where witnesses are asked to speak under oath,” she said, adding that it gives more legitimacy to witnesses statements.
She said the trial was important for Turkey and for truth telling.
“More information is coming up and more information will come up,” she said. “It is important because it means that justice is giving a space to victims, it is giving a form of space to Jamal Khashoggi and that matters as well a great deal.”
Stating the trial has some limitations as defendants are not present and cannot be heard, she said “for the time being this is the best we can get.”
She also voiced disappointment at the lack of international representation at the court and called on the international community to show more interest in the process.
She urged UNESCO, UK and Canada, who are at the forefront in fighting for the safety of journalists, to attend the next session in November.
“Let’s not forget that this is a state execution. Of course, we are focusing on individuals but this is a state execution. This is why the presence of other states of other members of the international community is important,” she said.
She said the judicial system is for the first time doing its part for Khashoggi since his murder and pushed for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to be indicted for his involvement in the killing.
*Writing by Sena Guler
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