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Turkey confirms hand over of Saudi critic, Khashoggi’s murder trial to Saudi Arabia, rights group revolts

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A Turkish court on Thursday confirmed a halt to the trial in absentia of 26 suspects linked to the killing of Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi and its transfer to Riyadh, a decision that has angered rights groups.

The 59-year-old journalist was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, in a gruesome murder that shocked the world.

A Turkish court began the trial in 2020 with relations tense between the two Sunni Muslim regional powers.

But with Turkey desperate for investment to help pull it out of economic crisis, Ankara has sought to heal the rift with Riyadh.

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The judge told the court: “We decided to halt and hand over the case to Saudi Arabia.”

The court decision comes almost a week after Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said that he would approve a Turkish prosecutor’s request to hand the case over to Saudi Arabia, at the latter’s demand.

The prosecutor said the case was “dragging” because, as the defendants were foreigners, the court’s orders could not be carried out.

Defence lawyer Ali Ceylan told the court on Thursday that there would not be a fair trial in Saudi Arabia.

“Let’s not entrust the lamb to the wolf,” he said, using a Turkish saying.

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Another defence lawyer, Gokmen Baspinar, said that the justice ministry’s move was “against the law.”

“There is no prosecution going on in Saudi Arabia at the moment,” he said. “Saudi authorities have concluded the trial and acquitted many suspects.”

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He said the decision to hand over the case to Riyadh would be tantamount to a “breach of Turkish sovereignty” and “an example of irresponsibility against Turkish people”.

The decision has deeply angered rights groups.

The Istanbul tribunal “agreed to transfer the case to the Saudi authorities — in one sentence, just like that. Didn’t even bother to state the lawyers’ requests are rejected,” Milena Buyum, of Amnesty International, said.

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She tweeted: “Appalling and clearly political decision.”

Five people were sentenced to death by the kingdom over Khashoggi’s killing, but a Saudi court in September 2020 overturned the sentences, handing jail terms of up to 20 years to eight unnamed defendants following secretive legal proceedings.

Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz, who was present at the hearing on Thursday, said that she would appeal the decision.

Turkey “is not ruled by a family like in Saudi Arabia. We have a justice system that addresses citizens’ grievances,” she told journalists outside Istanbul’s main court.

“We will appeal the decision in line with our legal system”.

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Speaking to AFP, she vowed to “continue to fight. Whoever gives up has given up. I will continue. Sometimes the legal battle itself is more important than the results.”

To Riyadh’s dismay, Turkey pressed ahead with the Khashoggi case and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had, at the time, said the order to kill him came from the “highest levels” of government.

Subsequently, Saudi Arabia sought unofficially to put pressure on Turkey’s economy, with a boycott on Turkish imports.

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Last year, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu visited Riyadh to mend fences with the kingdom.

Transferring the case to Riyadh removes the last obstacle to a normalisation of ties.

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In an interview with AFP in February, Cengiz urged Ankara to insist on justice despite the rapprochement with Saudi Arabia.

“In order for such a thing to not happen again…(Turkey) should not abandon this case,” she said.

Cengiz had been waiting outside the consulate for Khashoggi when he was murdered. He had gone there to obtain paperwork to marry her. His remains have never been found.

Erdogan has sought to improve ties with regional rivals including Egypt and the United Arab Emirates in the face of increasing diplomatic isolation that has caused foreign investment to dry up — particularly from the West.

In January, he said he was planning a trip to Saudi Arabia as the economy went through a tumultuous period.

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Turkey’s annual inflation has soared to 61.1 percent, according to official data Monday.

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Three electrocuted in Ogun market

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No fewer than three people, including a mother and child, were reportedly electrocuted at Mowe Market in Obafemi-Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State.

The incident reportedly happened on Monday following the restoration of power after the Sunday downpour.

The Chairman of the Local Government, Ambassador Adesina Ogunsola, during his visit to the market on Wednesday gave a seven-day notice to all the traders with shops and stalls under the high-tension powerline to vacate to forestall the recurrence of the tragic incident.

An eyewitness said that the electric shock was from the step-down transformer suspended on an electrical pole next to the shop where the incident happened, just as the shop owners arrived for their daily sales in the market.

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The woman and her son were said to have been burnt beyond recognition.

The Director of Information at the Obafemi Owode Local Government, Segun Soneye, confirmed the incident to our Correspondent on Thursday

Soneye, in a statement, blamed the incident on the erection of shops made of iron under the powerline by the traders.

He said, “The chairman of the council had visited the affected shop owners and commiserated with them over the incident.

“The LG boss has already given shop owners a seven-day ultimatum to evacuate their make-shift shops built under the high tension powerline to forestall the recurrence of the incident.”

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Speaking during his visit to the market, Ogunsola who commiserated with the families of the victims, also blamed the incident on the nonchalant attitude of the.

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The LG boss wondered why people would disregard safety rules and have their shops close to electrical poles that carry step-down transformers.

Ogunsola, while giving the vacation order to the traders with shops and stalls under the powerline, said, “Let me also say that everyone that has extended its shop beyond where it should be, particularly those under high-tension cables should start removing it from today.”

The police spokesman, Omolola Odutola, also confirmed the incident but said only the mother, Ujuwa Okechukwu, died from the incident.

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Crime

Correctional service to publicly display fleeing inmates’ details

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The Nigerian Correctional Service has said it would soon display the names and pictures of the fleeing inmates from the Medium Security Custodial Centre in Suleja, Niger State.

The Spokesperson NCoS, Federal Capital Territory Command, Adamu Duza, disclosed this to our correspondent on Thursday.

Theheute reports that a relentless downpour on Wednesday night wreaked havoc on the Medium Security Custodial Centre in Suleja, Niger State, resulting in extensive damage to the facility and facilitating the escape of 118 inmates.

The downpour caused severe damage to the custodial centre’s infrastructure, including a breach in the perimeter fence, allowing inmates to flee.

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However, 10 fleeing inmates had been recaptured.

Speaking with Theheute, Duza noted that the command was collaborating with other security agencies to recapture the remaining fleeing inmates, adding that their database would soon be made known to the public.
The Medium Security Custodial Centre in Suleja, Niger State, after the damage caused by the downpour.

He noted, “Our intelligence officers, armed squadron officers, in collaboration with the Nigeria police force, DSS, and other security agencies are combing neighbouring communities to find the fleeing inmates.

“Very soon, we shall publish the names and pictures of the fleeing inmates.”

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Crime

Oyo police arrest alleged killer of corper in Ogbomoso

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The Oyo State Police Command, on Thursday, announced the arrest of some officers, led by one inspector, Rasheed Saheed, who was involved in the alleged killing of a corper, Damilola Iyanda, in the Ogbomoso axis of the state.

Theheute reports that a police officer allegedly shot a member of the National Youth Service Corps, identified as Damilola, to death in the Ogbomoso Local Government Area of the state.

The late Damilola was serving in Ibadan, the state capital.

Oluwafemi Iyanda, who graduated from the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, and the deceased’s brother, said his late brother attended his convocation, after which they headed for an after-party the same day where he was shot dead by the trigger-happy cop.

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The police command, in a statement by its Public Relations Officer, Adewale Osifeso, said the officers involved in the shooting have been detained at the State Criminal Investigation Department, Iyaganku.

The police spokesperson said the Commissioner of Police, Hamzat Adebola, had ordered that the case be taken up by the Homicide Department of the SCID, with the Deputy Commissioner of Police directly in charge of the investigations.

He said, “The command wishes to clear the air about the unfortunate shooting incident that occurred, on Monday, April 22, 2024, at about 0130 hours around a popular nightclub along, “Under G” area, Owode-Ogbomoso, resulting in the demise of Damilola, ‘m’.

“The investigation report reveals that during the early hours of the same date and time, a distress call was received by Operatives of the Command’s Monitoring Unit stationed within Ogbomoso through the director of a popular nightclub within the axis, requesting immediate intervention and protection from rampaging suspected student cultists who were at the time harassing guests and destroying club property.

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The statement noted that, in a swift response to the call by the club director, a team of officers led by one inspector, Rasheed Saheed, arrived at the scene.

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According to the statement, the altercation worsened as deliberate efforts were made by the suspected cultists to prevent the police from further gaining access to the crime scene as shots were allegedly fired from different angles, including from the intervening officers who fired warning shots to disperse onlookers.

“The incident recorded the death of one Damilola, ‘m’, and the injury of his brother, one Iyanda Femi Israel, who has since been discharged from the hospital after treatment.

“Worthy of note is that the CP has ordered that the case be taken up by the Homicide Department of the SCID with the Deputy Commissioner of Police directly in charge of the investigations,” the statement said.

He said all the officers involved in the incident, including Inspector Saheed, were currently under detention at the SCID, Iyaganku.

The command, therefore, assured members of the public, particularly the student community, of the swift dispensation of Justice.

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