The judge who objected to a court ruling to transfer the case of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi to the Saudi Arabian judiciary, was recently appointed to a relatively insignificant post in a southeastern city of Turkey. He spoke to journalist İsmail Saymaz.
Dissident Saudi Arabian journalist Khashoggi, columnist for Middle East Eye and The Washington Post, was brutally murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on 2 October 2018 by agents of the Saudi government, allegedly on instructions by crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.
On 7 April 2022, a Turkish court ordered the transfer of the trial to Saudi Arabia, despite the fact that many of the suspects had already been acquitted in Saudi Arabia. Nimet Demir, the head of that court, was the only judge who objected to the decision.
It looks like you’ve been punished because of your opinion in the Khashoggi case.
Well, this seems to be the case. (Laughing) You don’t ask if snow is white. You already know that it is.
Did you expect this?
I didn’t think they would be so daring, so bold.
It came as a surprise for you, I guess.
Yes, I didn’t think they would be so upset.
What is your plan?
I plan to quit. That is not a post for judges of my tenure.
So you’ll quit the profession.
Yes, certainly, I will.
As far as I know, you are a conservative judge. Your articles in defence of the head scarf had sparked discussion back in 2014. There is no more discrimination over the head scarf. A prosecutor wearing a head scarf has even recently been appointed as chief prosecutor. Yet, you are about to quit the profession because of your opinion in a case. Don’t you think this is ironic?
These are actually things that can be expected from an authoritarian establishment. I would like to see human rights, freedoms and democracy take deep roots in society. I’m conservative, but this is my stance. I struggled for such values to be embraced. For me, it never mattered what the identity of the suspects, plaintiffs or defendants were in court cases. I always tried to do what the principles of democracy, human rights and freedom required. This is a stance that will always prompt reactions on the part of an authoritarian establishment. Let me say that I’m now the victim for having such a stance.
Did you ever say to yourself, ‘I should have written a different opinion’ in the Khashoggi case?
No, I didn’t. Never, never.