Mid West

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi murder trial begins in Istanbul

A Turkish court began the trial of 20 Saudi nationals, in their absence.

Credit : The Statesman

A Turkish court began the trial of 20 Saudi nationals, in their absence, at Istanbul on Friday. They have been charged with the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. His fiancée Cengiz hoped the case would provide fresh clues to the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s remains.

According to a CNN report, among the suspects are Saudi Arabia's former general intelligence deputy chief Ahmed al-Assiri and Saudi Crown Prince’s former adviser Saud al-Qahtani. Both have been accused of "instigating premeditated torturous murder with monstrous intent." The remaining 18 have been charged with "premeditated torturous murder with monstrous intent."

A BBC report said Khashoggi had been vehemently criticising the prince. The Istanbul trial comes after the international outcry over the killing, which tarnished the crown prince's reputation. The 59-year-old journalist was working for the Washington Post.

Turkey has been demanding the extradition of the suspects and their trial in Turkey as the murder happened there. Saudi Arabia has been ignoring the request.

The indictment details the chain of events on October 2, 2018, that led to Khashoggi’s murder after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to collect documents for his marriage with his Turkish fiancé Hatice Cengiz.

The indictment describes a conspiracy hatched by the accused. It consists of CCTV footage of 15 suspects who landed in Turkey from Saudi Arabia before the murder and testimony of witness Turkish workers from the consulate.

Cengiz said she would pursue justice for Khashoggi. She was waiting for Khashoggi outside the consulate on the day he was murdered.

"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," stated her statement with CNN.

"Jamal's killers and those who ordered his murder have evaded justice thus 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."

The Saudi government flip-flopped on Khashoggi's fate following his death. Saudi officials first said they didn’t know his whereabouts. They later said rogue operators murdered him but Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had no role in it. Turkey has alleged Riyadh with not cooperating with investigative agencies.

The CIA said Mohammed bin Salman had directed to eliminate Khashoggi, which has been denied by Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia tried 11 unidentified suspects in December 2019. But it was a shady trial and the defendants were not identified. Five among the eight found guilty were hanged. Khashoggi's sons later pardoned them and they were spared from the death sentence as per the Saudi law. Al-Qahtani and al-Assiri were absolved of the charges.

A United Nations special rapporteur concluded last year that according to international law, Saudi Arabia was responsible for the "deliberate, premeditated execution" of the journalist. They demanded the Crown Prince’s interrogation due to "credible evidence meriting further investigation."