Zeki Demir, a Saudi consulate worker in Turkey has told a court in Istanbul that he was told to immediately light an oven less than an hour after journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered the building where he was killed in 2018.
He further told the court that he had been called to the consul’s residence after Khashoggi entered the nearby consulate.
“There were five to six people there … They asked me to light up the tandoor [oven]. There was an air of panic,” said Demir.
Demir, identified as a local technician who worked for the consulate, was giving evidence on Friday, on the first day of the trial in absentia of 20 Saudi officials over Khashoggi’s killing which sparked global outrage.
According to the indictment, Saudi Arabia’s former deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri is accused of establishing a hit team and planning the murder of the journalist, who wrote critically of the Saudi government.
Reacting to the trial, Andrew Gardner, a senior Turkey researcher of UK-based Amnesty International, said that the trial would shed light on new evidence and also interrogate the evidence already available.
“This trial and other efforts by the Turkish authorities have been important in keeping the murder in the spotlight, not allowing it to be forgotten,” Gardner told Al Jazeera from Istanbul.
“This trial is not replacement for a UN-led international investigation. Hopefully it will be just another stepping stone on the road to ensuring such a probe takes place. And in that sense it is incredibly valuable,” he added.
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