Khashoggi assassination: trial to open in Turkey on Friday

(Istanbul) Turkish justice will open next Friday the trial in absentia of the 20 Saudis whom it accuses of the assassination in 2018 in Istanbul by Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, his fiancée told AFP on Tuesday.

France Media Agency

The trial will begin in the main court in Istanbul on Friday at 10 local time, said Hatice Cengiz, the Turkish fiancée from Khashoggi. “I will also be there,” she said.

Jamal Khashoggi, 59 years old, detractor of power from the Saudi royal family after having been close to him and collaborator of the Washington Post, was assassinated then cut into pieces on October 2 2018 inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where he went to get a document, according to Turkey.

The remains of the victim were never discovered.

Turkish prosecutors accuse the former deputy chief of intelligence services, General Ahmed al-Assiri, and the former adviser to the royal court Saoud al-Qahtani of having led the operation to eliminate Khashoggi and d have given orders to do so to a team of Saudi agents.

These two former officials are close to the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was appointed as the sponsor of the murder by Turkish and American officials.

Turkish justice has also indicted 18 other suspects. It has issued arrest warrants for all accused, who are not in Turkey and are facing the death penalty.

Agnès Callamard, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, is expected to attend the trial.

The opening of the trial on Friday has not been officially confirmed.

The children of Jamal Khashoggi declared at the end of May that they forgave their father's murderers.

The victim's fiancée however said at the time that “no one has the right to forgive”. “We will not forgive the killers or those who ordered the murder,” said Hatice Cengiz.

After denying the assassination and then putting forward several versions of the facts, Riyadh claimed that it had been committed by Saudi agents who allegedly acted alone and without receiving orders from their leaders.

Saudi justice has itself taken up the Khashoggi case. Following a trial in Saudi Arabia, five Saudis were sentenced to death and three others to prison terms for the murder, out of a total of 10 persons charged.

The verdict pronounced last December was criticized by international human rights organizations.