Istanbul (AFP)

Turkish justice will open next Friday the trial in absentia of the 20 Saudis whom it accuses of the assassination in 2018 in Istanbul of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, announced his fiancée to AFP on Tuesday.

The trial will begin in the main court in Istanbul on Friday at 10:00 am local time (07:00 GMT), Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi's Turkish fiancée, told AFP. "I will also be there," she said.

Jamal Khashoggi, 59, a detractor of power from the Saudi royal family after being close to him and a collaborator with the Washington Post, was murdered and then cut into pieces on October 2, 2018 inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul where he went to get a document, according to Turkey.

The remains of the victim were never discovered.

Turkish prosecutors accuse former deputy chief of intelligence services, General Ahmed al-Assiri, and former royal court adviser Saoud al-Qahtani of leading the operation to eliminate Khashoggi and of giving the orders to do so to a team of Saudi agents.

The two former officials are relatives of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been named as the sponsor of the murder by Turkish and American officials.

Turkish justice has also indicted 18 other suspects. It has issued arrest warrants for all the accused, who are not in Turkey and are facing the death penalty.

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

The opening of the trial on Friday has not been officially confirmed.

Jamal Khashoggi's children said in late May that they forgave their father's killers.

The victim's fiancée, 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, "said Hatice Cengiz.

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

Saudi courts have also 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.

© 2020 AFP