Twenty Saudi nationals went on trial in Turkey for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Friday even though they weren’t in court to face the charges.
The “in absentia” trial involves two former aides to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and 18 other Saudis allegedly flown to Istanbul to commit Khashoggi’s gruesome killing in October 2018.
Turkish prosecutors want to put the defendants behind bars for the rest of their lives. But all 20 suspects have left Turkey and Saudi Arabia has refused to extradite them while slamming Turkey for not cooperating with its own trial last year.
The crown prince’s ex-advisers, Saud al-Qahtani and Ahmed al-Asiri, have been charged with “instigating a premeditated murder with the intent of (causing) torment through fiendish instinct,” while the other 18 defendants were charged with carrying out the killing.
Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist, went into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul nearly two years ago to get documents for his marriage. While inside, his alleged killers suffocated him and then dismembered his body with a bone saw, according to Turkish officials.
The CIA and other Western governments believe bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s killing, which Saudi officials have denied. A Saudi court sentenced five people to death for Khashoggi’s killing in December, but they got a reprieve after Khashoggi’s family said they forgave the killers.
With Post wires