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20 Saudis to be tried in Turkey over Khashoggi killing

Istanbul, Jul 2 (EFE).- Twenty Saudi nationals, including two former advisors to Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, will go on trial starting Friday on charges relating to the October 2018 disappearance and alleged murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.

Prosecutors are calling for lifelong prisons sentences for the prince’s two former advisors, the former deputy head of Saudi Arabia’s general intelligence, Ahmed al-Asiri, and former royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani, who are accused of instigating “premeditated murder with monstrous intent.”

Eighteen other Saudi officials have been accused of carrying out the murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Khashoggi was last seen alive when he entered the building on 2 October to pick up documents for his upcoming wedding to his Turkish fiancée.

He was a fierce critic of his country’s monarchy and of Mohamed bin Salman.

The defendants will be tried in absentia, despite Turkey issuing arrest warrants through Interpol.

It will be the first judicial proceedings into the case in Turkey. In December 2019, Saudi Arabia said it had sentenced five people to death for their roles in the killing, while three others were imprisoned for covering up the murder.

Saudi officials initially denied any involvement in his death at the consulate but later acknowledged he had been killed when a fight broke out.

His fiancée Hatice Cengiz is expected to attend the trial, as well as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, and representatives of the Turkish chapter of Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

“Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination remains one of the most horrific crimes against a journalist that we have ever seen. Shocking, too, is the fact that nearly two years on, very little has been done to secure justice or hold the Saudi government to account,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said in a statement on Wednesday.

“We hope the Istanbul proceedings will open not only a new route to justice, but will serve as a wake-up call to the international community on the urgent need to end impunity for Khashoggi’s murder and ensure better protections for journalists everywhere.” EFE

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