Türkİye, Politics, World

Turkey begins trying 20 Saudis over Khashoggi killing

Trial starts after Istanbul court accepted 117-page indictment accusing Saudi nationals in April

Muhammed Enes Can and Sena Guler  | 03.07.2020 - Update : 03.07.2020
Turkey begins trying 20 Saudis over Khashoggi killing


Turkey begins trying 20 Saudi nationals in absentia Friday over the 2018 killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at Saudi Arabia’s Consulate in Istanbul.

A 117-page indictment prepared by Istanbul prosecutors accusing the Saudi nationals of involvement in the gruesome premeditated murder was accepted in April by Istanbul’s Heavy Penal Court No. 11.

The first hearing will be held at the Istanbul Caglayan Courthouse.

Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, was killed and dismembered by a group of Saudi operatives shortly after he entered the country's consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018 to obtain a number of marriage-related documents.

His body was never recovered.

In the indictment, Khashoggi is named as the victim and his fiancée Hatice Cengiz as the plaintiff.

It accuses Ahmed Bin Mohammed Al-Asiri and Saud Al-Qahtani of incitement to deliberate killing through torture and seeks separate aggravated life sentences for both.

It also accuses 18 other Saudi nationals -- Mansour Othman M. Abahussain, Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, Salah Mohammed al-Tubaigy, Mustafa Mohammed M. Almadani, Saif Saad al-Qahtani, Thaar Ghaleb T. al-Harbi, Badr Lafi al-Otaibi, Turki Musharraf M. Alshehri, Fahad Shabib A. Albalawi, Waleed Abdullah M. Alshehri, Mohammad Saad al-Zahrani, Naif Hassan Saad al-Arifi, Abdulaziz Mohammed al-Hawsawi, Khalid Aedh G. Alotaibi, Saad Meshal al-Bostani, Muflih Shaya M. Almuslih, Ahmed Abdullah A. Almuzaini and Saad Muid Alqarni -- and recommends separate aggravated life sentences for each.

The 18 were in consensus over killing Khashoggi since the beginning if he refused to return to Saudi Arabia and they acted on the mutual decision to commit the crime, according to the indictment.

From the indictment

The indictment stated that suspect Abahussain, working as a major general and intelligence officer in Saudi Arabia, was assigned in the office of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and was instructed by Al-Asiri to bring Khashoggi back to the country and to kill him if he resisted. It added that Abahussain assembled a 15-man hit squad, including himself, for the murder.

Abahussain also distributed tasks among the squad, separating them into three groups: intelligence, logistics and negotiation.

Mutreb was the head of the negotiation group, while Abahussain involved al-Tubaigy, a forensic specialist, in the 15-men team in case the victim resisted and wanted to leave and as a result, would be killed.

Abahussain also determined the place to meet Khashoggi as the working office at the Istanbul consulate and made plans for all contingencies before, during and after the deed.

The indictment also gave detailed information about the suspects’ entry and exit to the consulate and the hotel they stayed, providing exact timings starting from Oct. 1, 2018 -- a day before the killing.

Abahussain, along with other suspects al-Zahrani and al-Arifi, visited the consul’s residence on Oct. 1, 2018 around 7.14 p.m. local time (1614GMT) and left there at 10.05 p.m. (1905GMT). They returned to the hotel at 11.52 p.m. (2052GMT).

Suspects al-Arifi, al-Bostani, al-Hawsawi and Alotaibi left their hotel on Oct. 2, 2018 -- the day of the incident -- at 10.01 a.m. local time (0701GMT) and entered the consul’s residence, while Abahussain left his hotel at 12.05 p.m. (0905GMT) and reached the consul’s residence on foot at 12.50 p.m. (0950GMT).

Khashoggi entered the consulate building at 1.08 p.m. local time (1008GMT) that day and was suffocated to death by suspects Mutreb, al-Harbi, al-Otaibi, Abdullah M. Alshehri, Albalawi, Musharraf M. Alshehri, al-Tubaigy, Saad al-Qahtani, Almadani and al-Zahrani.

Following the incident, Abahussain along with al-Arifi and al-Bostani left the consul’s residence at 7.37 p.m. local time (1637GMT) and first went to the hotel and then to the airport together with another suspect, al-Zahrani.

Al-Hawsawi, Alotaibi and al-Tubaigy, who remained at the residence, left there at 7.46 p.m. (1646GMT) and went to the airport.

The suspects left Turkey on a private jet owned by Sky Prime Aviation Services at 10 p.m. local time (1900GMT) on Oct. 2, 2018.

“Abahussain was in a position to dominate the event and the execution of the actions during the killing of the victim,” the indictment said, adding other suspects were also directly involved in the murder, which was mutually reinforced by completing the actions of each other to carry out the plan at the scene of the crime and contributing in an effective and functional way to commit the crime.

UN report

The indictment also cited a report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, Agnes Callamard, which concluded that Khashoggi's murder was a "deliberate, premeditated execution" and encouraged an investigation of Crown Prince bin Salman.

Callamard’s report said suspects Mutreb and al-Tubaigy had a conversation just minutes before Khashoggi entered the consulate and talked about how to kill and dismember the victim.

“Once inside the Consulate, Mr. Khashoggi appears to have been met by someone he knew…He was invited to the office of the Consul General located on the second floor of the Consulate,” the report said.

It added that the first question was whether if he would go back to Saudi Arabia and it was stated that Interpol ordered his return.

After Khashoggi noted that there was not any case filed against him, he was told to message his son, which he rejected, according to the report.

It also said that the suspects did not let Khashoggi leave and killed him by suffocating him and took his body out of the consulate after dismembering it.

'Contradictory statements by Saudi officials'

Statements by the authorities and the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are contradictory and unrealistic regarding the killing of the victim, the indictment highlighted.

Recalling that the trial of suspects of Khashoggi’s killing started in Saudi Arabia, the indictment included a report on the hearings of the trial prepared by officials of Turkey’s Riyadh Embassy and sent to the Public Prosecutor’s Office through the Foreign Ministry.

A letter of request was sent to the Saudi Arabian judicial authorities by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office on Jan. 15, 2019, regarding the killing of Khashoggi, including copies of all documents of suspects and witness statements, indictments, interrogations, trial minutes and official correspondence. No response has been given to this request until today, according to the indictment.

It emphasized that on Nov. 5, 2018, extradition requests were prepared and sent to the Directorate General for European Union and Foreign Relations of the Justice Ministry to be sent to the judicial authorities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through the Foreign Ministry and that Red Notice decisions were issued about the defendants.

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