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Turkey opens trial in death of Muslim Brotherhood columnist Jamal Khashoggi

A Turkish court with close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood regime of Turkish President Recep Erdogan, has put 20 Saudi Arabian individuals on trial in absentia on Friday for the murder of Muslim Brotherhood member Jamal Khashoggi.  The death of the freelance writer was condemned by many but his ties to radical Islam were rarely discussed in American media.

Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018 when he went there seeking papers for his marriage. Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz waited unknowing outside the consulate while, according to prosecutors, he was suffocated.

The indictment accuses two top Saudi officials, former deputy head of Saudi Arabia’s general intelligence Ahmed al-Asiri and former royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani, of instigating “premeditated murder with monstrous intent”. It says 18 other defendants were flown to Turkey to kill Khashoggi.

While Khashoggi has been described as a “journalist,” he was mainly a leading proponent of the Muslim Brotherhood who used his platform in U.S. and European media outlets to criticize Saudi Arabia for it’s battle with radical Islamists in the Middle East.

READ: The truth about Khashoggi

The defendants are being tried in absentia and are unlikely ever to be handed over by Saudi Arabia, which has accused Turkey of failing to cooperate with a separate, largely secretive, trial in Riyadh last year.

In December a Saudi court sentenced five people to death and three to jail for the killing, but Khashoggi’s family later said they forgave his murderers, effectively granting them a formal reprieve under Saudi law.

Islamic activists hope that the Istanbul trial will throw a fresh spotlight on the case and strengthen the argument for sanctions against Saudi Arabia which is increasingly siding with Israel over threats from Iran and the Palestinian conflict. The Muslim Brotherhood has called for the destruction of Israel and now controls the once secular country of Turkey.

–Dwight Widaman and wire services