Turkish prosecutors file indictment over Khashoggi killing

ANKARA, Turkey – Prosecutors officially charged two former aides to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and 18 other Saudi nationals for the murder of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

A statement by the Istanbul Attorney General’s Office said that she had completed her investigation into Khashoggi’s cruel murder of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and charged 20 Saudi citizens. The murder brought international condemnation and threw a cloud of suspicion over Prince Mohammed.

However, all suspects have left Turkey and Saudi Arabia has rejected Turkish requests to return to Turkey. Riyadh insisted that the kingdom’s courts are the right place to be brought to justice, and has brought eleven people to justice for the murder.

The Turkish indictment accuses the prince’s former advisers, Saud al-Qahtani and Ahmed al-Asiri, of “instigating a premeditated murder to torture him with devilish instinct,” said the attorney general’s office, Irfan Fidan.

The indictment also demands life sentences for 18 other Saudi nationals accused of “committing a premeditated murder with the intention of torturing them with devilish instincts.”

Khashoggi, a US resident, went to his country’s consulate on October 2, 2018 to make an appointment to pick up documents that would allow him to get married. He never went out and his body was not found.

A team of 15 Saudi agents had flown to Turkey to meet Khashoggi at the consulate. These included a coroner, intelligence and security officials, and people who worked for the Crown Prince’s office. This is the result of a report by the US special rapporteur Agnes Callamard from last year. Turkish officials claim that Khashoggi was killed and then dismembered with a bone saw.

According to Fidan’s office, the 18 suspects are accused of “acting from the start in accordance with the decision to return the victim to Saudi Arabia and kill him if he does not agree”.

The explanation contained no further details and it was not immediately clear whether the suspects would be brought to trial in absentia.

The trial in Saudi Arabia last year concluded that the murder was not premeditated, leading to widespread criticism of a “whitewash”.

Five people were sentenced to death, while three others were found guilty of covering up the crime and sentenced to a total of 24 years in prison. According to Saudi authorities, al-Qahtani was investigated and was not shown to be involved in the murder, while al-Asiri was brought to trial and released for insufficient evidence.

Turkey, a rival of Saudi Arabia, has used the killing on its soil to pressure the kingdom. Apparently it had bugged the Saudi consulate and had audio of the murder with the C.I.A. divided.

Saudi Arabia initially offered changing reports of the disappearance of Khashoggi. When international pressure increased due to the Turkish leaks, the kingdom finally decided to declare that he had been killed in a brawl by villain officers.

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