The trial of 20 Saudis accused by Turkey of having assassinated Jamal Khashoggi begins before the main court in Istanbul on Friday July 3, at 10 a.m. local time (9 a.m. in Paris). The 59-year-old Saudi journalist, detractor of power from the Saudi royal family and collaborator of the Washington Post, was assassinated and then cut into pieces on October 2, 2018 inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where he had returned to obtain a document, according to Turkey. The remains of the victim were never discovered. The opening of the trial has not been officially confirmed.

Turkish justice has issued arrest warrants for all accused, who are not in Turkey and face the death penalty. They will therefore be tried in absentia. Among them are the former deputy chief of intelligence services, General Ahmed al-Assiri, and former adviser to the royal court Saoud al-Qahtani. They are accused by Turkish prosecutors of having led the operation to eliminate Khashoggi and of having given orders to a team of Saudi agents. The two are relatives of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been named as the sponsor of the murder by Turkish and American officials.

United Nations Special Rapporteur present at the trial

Agnes Callamard, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, is expected to attend the trial.

Jamal Khashoggi's children said in late May that they forgave their father's killers. The victim's Turkish fiancée Hatice Cengiz, who announced to AFP that she would be present at the trial, however said at the time that "no one has the right to forgive". We will not forgive the killers or those who ordered the murder, "she said.

After denying the assassination and then putting forward several versions of the facts, Riyadh claimed that it was committed by Saudi agents who allegedly acted alone and without receiving orders from their leaders.

Saudi justice has itself taken up the Khashoggi case. Following a trial in Saudi Arabia, five Saudis were sentenced to death and three others to prison terms for the murder, out of a total of 11 people charged. The verdict handed down last December was criticized by international human rights organizations.

With AFP

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