Jamal Khashoggi murder trial: Turkey commences trial of charged 20 Saudis

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Friday marked the commencement of Jamal Khashoggi murder trial with the charged 20 Saudi nationals in Istanbul, Turkey. His fiancé is hopeful that trial might shed some light on the whereabouts of the journalist’s remains. Hatice Cengiz is hopeful of the trial to bring justice to her assassinated fiancé.

The suspects – including Ahmed al-Assiri, a former deputy head of Saudi Arabia’s general intelligence and Saud al-Qahtani, former advisor to Saudi Crown Prince – are being tried in absentia, as mentioned in the Turkish indictment. Both the accused are charged with “instigating premeditated torturous murder with monstrous intent”. The remaining 18 defendants are accused of “premeditated torturous murder with monstrous intent”.Ankara has consistently called for extradition of the accused for their trial to happen in Turkey, the place of crime, but Riyadh has not complied.

The indictment contains the details of the incident that happened on October 2, 2018 – afternoon of the said day Khashoggi walked into the Saudi consulate situated on a busy street district area in Istanbul, to collect some papers. The papers were to enable him marry his Turkish fiancé Hatice Cengiz. According to the Turkish indictment, a conspiracy was brewing among the defendants. As evidence the indictment contains CCTV footage of movement of defendants, entailing that 15 of them flew from Saudi Arabia to Turkey before the murder. There is also testimony from eyewitness, the Turkish workers at the consulate who were given time off on the day of planned murder.

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Hatice Cengiz said, “I will continue to pursue all legal avenues to hold Jamal’s killers accountable and I will not rest until we get justice for Jamal. Jamal’s killers and those who ordered his murder have evaded justice so far. I hope this criminal case in Turkey brings to light the whereabouts of Jamal’s body, the evidence against the killers and the evidence of those behind the gruesome murder.”

Saudi government has been shifting its base in the months following murder of Khashoggi. In the initial days they denied of any knowledge regarding the whereabouts of slain journalist. Later they said a rogue group of operators has carried out the murder of Jamal Khashoggi with no involvement of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Turkish officials have been denied of any cooperation from Riyadh consistently in the investigation.

US officials comment that such a mission with 15 men entering Turkey from Riyadh to murder a journalist, could not have been done without support and authorization from the Crown Prince. Saudi authorities have denied all the allegations.

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