A Turkish court has halted the trial of 26 Saudis charged in the brutal killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and ordered the proceedings transferred to Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis were being tried in absentia for killing Khashoggi after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 to obtain paperwork to marry his Turkish fiancée.

The murder of Khashoggi, a severe critic of the Saudi royal family, shocked the world. A U.S. intelligence report released a year ago said Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman had approved the operation to kill or capture Khashoggi.

The trial began in 2020 amid tense relations between the two Sunni Muslim nations, but Turkey has sought to improve relations with Saudi Arabia as it seeks investment to boost its struggling economy.

Human rights groups have denounced the Turkish court’s decision to move the trial to Saudi Arabia.

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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