The Istanbul court heard a close friend of Khashoggis on Tuesday, as Christian Mihr, a trial observer from the organization Reporters Without Borders, told the German Press Agency (dpa). The next day of the trial in Istanbul should take place on March 4th. According to Mihr and other observers, the interviewee testified in court that long before his death, Khashoggi felt threatened, among other things, by a phone call from the Saudi Arabian deputy chief of intelligence. He told Khashoggi that he knew his children and knew where they lived. Khashoggi himself had already reported threats before his murder. After his first visit to the Saudi Arabian consulate a few days before his murder, his worries had subsided. Khashoggi said that he might think too badly of the Saudis.
Khashoggi was killed on October 2, 2018 in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul by a special command from Riyadh. The Turkish judiciary is opening the case. The trial of 20 defendants began in early July.
A total of 26 Saudi Arabian citizens are charged. The allegations ranged from direct involvement to incitement, so Mihr. The court had previously merged two indictments. None of the defendants took part in the trial. Of the two witnesses summoned, only one appeared and the day of the trial was declared over after an hour.
The leadership of the Islamic conservative kingdom faced severe criticism after the murder. The government only admitted the murder under international pressure. At that time, the traces led to the closest circle of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Bin Salman denied having ordered the killing himself.
The process in Turkey has strong political implications, as Turkey and Saudi Arabia are rivals and vying for influence in the region. Only last week, however, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and bin Salman agreed to improve relations between the two countries.
At the beginning of September, a Saudi Arabian court sentenced five defendants to 20 years’ imprisonment, apparently overturning the death penalty imposed on the five men at the end of last year. Khashoggi’s family had previously stated that they would forgive the perpetrators.
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