Turkey begins Jamal Khashoggi murder trial

Turkey begins Jamal Khashoggi murder trial
Jamal Khashoggi was a critic of Saudi prince Salman. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times: The trial of 20 Saudi nationals charged with the murder of Jamal Khashoggi opened in an Istanbul courtroom on Friday in their absence. Mr Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

Those who set for trial include two former top aides to Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Jamal Khashoggi was a vocal critic of the prince Salman. Saudi Arabia also carried out a separate trial over the killing of Khashoggi that was heavily criticised as incomplete.

The trial in Turkey follows an international outcry over the murder, which tarnished the prince’s reputation.

Turkish prosecutors accuse the royal court’s media adviser Saud al-Qahtani and the former deputy head of Saudi intelligence, Ahmed al-Asiri of having led the operation and instructed a Saudi hit team.

The other 18 defendants are accused of having suffocated the Washington Post columnist, whose remains have not been found.

Turkish said his body was dismembered and removed to an unknown site. The journalist, who was resident in the US, had entered Istanbul’s Saudi consulate seeking papers for his impending wedding.

AFP news agency reports that his fiancee Hatice Cengiz is attending the trial alongside the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Agnes Callamard, who has directly linked the crown prince to the killing.

The Saudi authorities initially denied any involvement with the killing, but later called it a “rogue operation”.

In December, a court in Saudi Arabia sentenced five people to death and three to jail for Khashoggi’s killing, but the trial was secretive and the defendants were not named.

Some Western governments and the CIA believe the murder was ordered by Crown Prince Salman – but he denies the allegation. The crown prince is de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia.

”Khashoggi was the victim of a deliberate, premeditated execution, an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible”, says UN special rapporteur Callamard.

The 59-year-old journalist worked for the Washington Post at the time of his death.

The prosecutors have charged Saud al-Qahtani and Ahmed al-Asiri with “instigating the deliberate and monstrous killing, causing torment”.

Hatice Cengiz hopes that the trial will reveal significant new evidence of the killing and finally reveal what happened to Khashoggi’s remains.

She was waiting for Khashoggi out of the consulate on the day he was murdered.

The Turkish indictment outlines a conspiracy among the defendants. It includes CCTV footage of the movement of the suspects — 15 of whom flew into Turkey from Saudi Arabia ahead of the killing — as well as eyewitness testimony from Turkish workers in the consulate who were given time off on the day of the murder.

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