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Khashoggi murder trial opens in Saudi Arabia

January 3, 2019

The suspects charged with killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi have appeared in court. His murder in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul threw the kingdom into turmoil, with many suspecting high-level involvement.

A woman holds a poster calling for justice in the slaying of Jamal Khashoggi
Image: imago/IP3press/A. Morissard

The trial of murdered dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi opened Thursday in Riyadh with the state prosecution announcing it would seek death sentences for five of the 11 suspects, state media reported.

They provided few other details and did not name the suspects. Saudi Arabia previously said it had arrested 18 people in relation to Khashoggi's murder.

Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post who was an outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia's ruling family, was killed on October 2 at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

His murder sparked international tensions, with Saudi Arabia initially denying that he had been killed and US intelligence officials, among others, accusing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of direct involvement in the murder.

A question of evidence

The 11 suspects attended the hearing with their lawyers, a statement from the prosecutors said. The statement also said that prosecutors had asked Turkey to send the evidence it had collected while investigating Khashoggi's murder. 

"No response has been received to date and the Public Prosecutor's Office is still waiting for an answer," the prosecutor's statement read.

Turkish authorities have previously said they passed on investigatory evidence to Saudi Arabia. 

Following the murder, Turkish media published photos showing individuals from Salman's inner circle at the Istanbul consulate where Khashoggi was later murdered. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Khashoggi's murder reached the top levels of the Saudi government.

Turkish officials also sought to have the Saudi suspects extradited to Turkey to stand trial there, but Saudi Arabia repeatedly turned down the requests.

Khashoggi's body is believed to have been dismembered. His body has yet to be found. 

A date for the second hearing has not yet been scheduled.

cmb/kms (APE, Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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