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Trial in Killing of Journalist Khashoggi Opens in Turkey

Hatice Cengiz, fiancee of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, leaves the Justice Palace after attending the opening session of a trial of those charged in the killing of Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate, in Istanbul, Turkey, July 3, 2020.

A trial of those charged in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi opened Friday in Turkey, but none of the 20 Saudi nationals accused in the killing were in attendance.

The fiancee of Khashoggi, Hatice Cengiz, told the court in Istanbul that the accused used “great betrayal and deception” to lure the journalist to his death at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Cengiz told reporters outside the courthouse that “we will continue seeking justice not just in Turkey but everywhere we can.”

Khashoggi, who was a U.S. resident, went to the consulate in 2018 to pick up documents that would allow him to marry Cengiz, who is Turkish. He was killed inside the consulate while Cengiz waited outside, sparking global outrage.

The journalist, who wrote columns for The Washington Post, was a prominent critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The 20 defendants, including two former aides of the crown prince, have all returned to Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has rejected Turkey’s request for their extradition.

Some of the men have been tried in Saudi Arabia behind closed doors.

Turkish prosecutors allege the men were sent to Turkey from Riyadh to confront Khashoggi.

Rogue operatives blamed

Saudi Arabia has given varying accounts of Khashoggi’s disappearance, eventually saying the killing was the work of rogue operatives.

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has concluded with “medium to high confidence” that Crown Prince Mohammed ordered the killing. The crown prince denies he was involved.

The remains of Khashoggi have not been found. Turkish and Saudi prosecutors allege the Saudi agents dismembered his body after the killing.

A handyman at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Zeki Demir, told the Turkish court Friday that he had been asked to light a tandoor oven less than one hour after Khashoggi entered the building. He described the Saudi agents as having an “air of panic.”

The trial was adjourned Friday until November 24.