Published: Wed, March 25, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

Turkish prosecutors charge 20 Saudis, including senior officials, in Khashoggi killing

Turkish prosecutors charge 20 Saudis, including senior officials, in Khashoggi killing

Turkish prosecutors have charged two former top aides of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and 18 other Saudis over the 2018 murder of journalist and Riyadh critic Jamal Khashoggi, officials said Wednesday.

It said the indictment accuses former deputy head of Saudi Arabia's general intelligence Ahmed al-Asiri and former royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani as having "instigated premeditated murder with monstrous intent".

Eighteen other Saudi nationals were also accused of carrying our Khashoggi's killing with "monstrous intent and torture".

In a statement to Reuters, Agnes Callamard, the United Nations rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, urged U.S. authorities to release their findings on responsibility for Khashoggi's death, "including the responsibility of Saudi Arabia crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman".

Turkey's ties with Saudi Arabia have come under strain since the brutal murder last October of Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, which tarnished the global reputation of the crown prince.

She urged the US National Director of Intelligence to publish a report on who is responsible for the murder, and called on Washington to carry out "an global investigation".

His remains have never been found despite repeated calls by Turkey for the Saudis to cooperate.

All the suspects, however, have left Turkey, and Saudi Arabia has rejected Turkey's calls for their return to face trial there.

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The prosecutor said the suspects were in agreement to bring Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia, and kill him if he refused to go. But a Saudi prosecutor said there was no evidence connecting al-Qahtani to the killing and the court dismissed the charges against al-Asiri.

The latter announcement appeared to be a sign that the Turkish government could still indict bin Salman who has been accused of ordering the killing.

The group includes intelligence operative Maher Mutreb, forensic expert Salah al-Tubaigy and Fahad al-Balawi, a member of the Saudi royal guard, who were among 11 people on trial in Riyadh.

In December, a court in the kingdom sentenced five unnamed people to death and jailed three more over the murder.

Qahtani had been investigated but he was not charged by the Saudi authorities because of "insufficient evidence" while Assiri was charged but eventually acquitted on the same grounds.

Al Jazeera's Sinem Koseoglu, reporting from Istanbul, said no one in Turkey has any idea on why this indictment was announced and a public case opened given the coronavirus pandemic.

The prosecutors have already issued arrest warrants for the suspects who are not in Turkey.

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