ANKARA – Turkey lashed out on Monday at a Saudi court’s “scandalous” 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 fueled 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 Khashoggi 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 Oct.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.