Turkey will try the 20 suspects in the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi – including two former aides to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – in absentia on Friday, his fiancee told AFP on Tuesday.
Khashoggi, 59, a Riyadh critic commentator who wrote for The Washington Post, was killed after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018, to obtain paperwork for his wedding to Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz.
Turkish prosecutors accuse Saudi Arabia's deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri and the royal court's media czar Saud al-Qahtani of leading the operation and giving orders to a Saudi hit team.
Eighteen other suspects – including intelligence operative Maher Mutreb who frequently traveled with the crown prince on foreign tours – were also charged with "deliberately and monstrously killing, causing torment."
They face life in jail if convicted.
The trial in absentia will open at Istanbul's main court Çağlayan on Friday at 10:00 am local time (0700 GMT), Khashoggi's fiance Cengiz told AFP late Tuesday.
"I will also be there," she said.
Agnes Callamard, the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, is also expected to attend the trial.
There was no immediate official confirmation of the trial in absentia.
Turkish prosecutors had already issued arrest warrants for the Saudi suspects, who are not in Turkey.
Khashoggi's sons announced in May that they "forgive" the killers of their father.
However, his fiancee said, "no one" had the right to pardon his murderers.
"His ambush and heinous murder do not have a statute of limitations and no one has the right to pardon his killers. I and others will not stop until we get #JusticeForJamal," Khashoggi's fiancee Hatice Cengiz tweeted.
"The killers came from Saudi with premeditation to lure, ambush & kill him... We will not pardon the killers nor those who ordered the killing," she added.
Khashoggi – who was close to the Saudi royals but became a critic – was killed and dismembered at the kingdom's consulate, in a case that tarnished the reputation of Crown Prince Mohammed.
His remains have never been found.
Prior to his killing, Khashoggi had written critically of the crown prince in multiple columns for the Washington Post and had been living in exile for about a year, fearing he would be detained if he returned to Saudi Arabia as part of a wider crackdown on writers, activists and critics.
After offering shifting accounts of what transpired under intense international and Turkish pressure, the kingdom eventually settled on the explanation that Khashoggi had been killed by Saudi agents in an operation masterminded by two of the crown prince’s top aides, who have since been removed from their posts.
The kingdom denies the crown prince had any knowledge of the operation. His critics, however, point to U.S. intelligence reports that say an operation like this could not have happened without his knowledge.
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