Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Turkey has officially charged 20 suspects including two aides to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in October 2018.
The 59-year-old commentator and Riyadh critic who wrote for The Washington Post was killed after he entered the Saudi consulate on October 2, 2018, to obtain paperwork for his wedding to Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz.
According to Turkish officials, Khashoggi was strangled and his body cut into pieces by a 15-man Saudi squad inside the consulate. His remains have never been found since then.
On Wednesday, the office of the Istanbul chief prosecutor, Irfan Fidan, said in a statement that the former royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani and former deputy head of intelligence Ahmed al-Asiri were among the suspects charged with “instigating a premeditated murder with the intent of [causing] torment through fiendish instinct.”
Eighteen other suspects including intelligence operative Maher Mutreb who frequently travelled with the crown prince on foreign tours, forensic expert Salah al-Tubaigy and Fahad al-Balawi, a member of the Saudi royal guard were also charged with ‘deliberately and monstrously killing, causing torment’.
Arrest warrants for the suspects have already been issued but since none are in the country a trial in absentia will be opened at an unspecified date, the prosecutor has said.
At that time, the CIA, along with several Western governments accused the crown prince of ordering Khashoggi’s assassination. The kingdom has since denied such claims, but blamed a “rogue operation” for Khashoggi’s death.
It was also revealed that Saudi Arabia has rejected Turkish calls for the suspects’ return to face trial in Turkey despite sentencing five unidentified people to death in December 2019.
Turkey is seeking life imprisonment in all 20 cases in the murder.