ISTANBUL, A court in Istanbul began on Friday to judge in absentia, 20 Saudis, including two relatives of the crown prince of saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman, accused by the Turkish authorities of having killed and dismembered the columnist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, according to the AFP.
Among these 20 people accused of”intentional homicide and premeditated with the intention to inflict suffering”, two are identified by the investigators turks as sponsors: an ex-advisor to the crown prince, Saud al-Qahtani, and a former number two of the Intelligence, general Ahmed al-Assiri.
If the accused could, in theory, life in prison, the procedure is above all symbolic, since none of them is located in Turkey.
Khashoggi, a contributor to the Washington Post, and critic of the saudi regime after having been near, had been murdered and his body cut into pieces in October 2018 in the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul where he had gone to retrieve a document.
This murder has plunged Saudi Arabia into one of its worst diplomatic crises and tarnished the image of the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, said, “MBS”, designated by the Turkish officials and us as the sponsor of the murder.
After having denied the murder, and then put forward a number of contradictory versions, Riyadh said that it was committed by saudi agents who had acted alone and without orders from senior officers.
The bride’s Turkish Khashoggi, Hatice Cengiz, as well as the united Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, Agnès Callamard, were present at the hearing on Friday, according to a correspondent of the AFP.
“The killers of Jamal and those who have given the order have avoided justice until now,” said to the AFP Mrs. Cengiz before the trial. “I’m going to continue to exhaust all legal options to ensure that the murderers are brought to justice,” she added.
Without going so far as to accuse directly the MBS, the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has several times called to “judge all guilty”.
Khashoggi was 59 years old at the time of his death. His remains were never found.
At the end of a trial opaque in Saudi Arabia, five Saudi, were sentenced to death last year. No charges have been brought against Mr. Qahtani and Mr. Assiri was acquitted.
Turkey has described as “outrageous” this verdict, believing that the true sponsor had been granted “immunity”.