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Istanbul court hears witnesses in Khashoggi case

A court in Istanbul trying 26 Saudi suspects in absentia for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi yesterday took the testimonies of three witnesses, including a security guard and a driver.

The security guard of then Saudi Consul-General Mohammad al-Otaibi said that the Saudi diplomat was on leave on the day when the incident occurred, and he was also asked to take a day off.

“I did not suspect anything,” he told the court, adding that he does not speak Arabic, so he was not able to understand the conversations taking place in the diplomat’s vehicle.

Driver Edip Yilmaz said he and his colleagues were locked in a room by the consulate’s security team and not allowed to leave until further notice on the day of Khashoggi’s murder.

“It gave me the impression that something abnormal was going on,” the driver told the court.

The third witness, Hikmet Çetinkaya, said he was asked by Turan Kışlakçı, the head of the Turkish-Arab Media Association, to serve as a driver and they went to the consulate a day after the incident.

An individual who was directing vehicle traffic at the consulate told them not to wait and leave.

“I told him, ‘He could not have gone missing there are cameras everywhere.’ This person responded: How do you know, maybe they chopped him into pieces,” Çetinkaya told the court.

Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s financee, who attended the third hearing, asked the court to take witness account of Kışlakçı.

Cengiz also asked the court to add a U.S. report blaming the kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the killing.

But the presiding judge rejected the request on the grounds that it “will bring nothing” to the trial.

Khashoggi was an insider-turned-critic who wrote for The Washington Post when he was killed and dismembered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after going in to get documents for his wedding to Cengiz in October 2018.

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