Khashoggi: Turkish court begins trial of 20 Saudi nationals

by Akeem Alao
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A Turkish court has begun the trial of 20 Saudi nationals indicted over the killing of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

The trial began at Istanbul province’s main court in Caglayan district on Friday July 3, 2020.

According to Andrew Gardner, the senior Turkey researcher of UK-based Amnesty International, there was an expectation the trial would shed light on new evidence and also interrogate the evidence already available.

“This trial and other efforts by the Turkish authorities have been important in keeping the murder in the spotlight, not allowing it to be forgotten,” Gardner said.

“This trial is not replacement for a UN-led international investigation. Hopefully it will be just another stepping stone on the road to ensuring such a probe takes place. And in that sense it is incredibly valuable,” he added.

In March, Turkish prosecutors indicted 20 Saudi nationals over Khashoggi’s killing, including two former senior aides to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the kingdom’s de facto ruler.

According to the indictment, Saudi Arabia’s former deputy intelligence, chief Ahmed al-Assiri, is accused of establishing a hit team and planning the murder of the journalist, who wrote critically of the Saudi government.

The former royal court and media adviser, Saud al-Qahtani, is accused of instigating and leading the operation by giving orders to the hit team.

Other suspects are mainly the Saudi officers who allegedly took part in the assassination operation. The Turkish prosecutors have already issued arrest warrants for the suspects.

Khashoggi, a 59-year-old Washington Post columnist, was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, after he entered the premises to obtain paperwork for his planned marriage.

Turkish officials say Khashoggi’s body was dismembered at the consulate by the killers and his remains are yet to be found.

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