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Turkey charges 20 suspects with Khashoggi murder

March 25, 2020

The suspects include two former aides to Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman. They're accused of orchestrating the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, an outspoken Riyadh critic, who was killed in the Saudi consulate in 2018.

Turkish police officer in front of mural with Jamal Khashoggi painting
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/AP/L. Pitarakis

Turkish prosecutors said Wednesday they had formally charged 20 suspects for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.

An indictment from the Istanbul chief public prosecutor's office accuses ex-deputy chief of the Saudi intelligence service, Ahmed al-Asiri, and Saud al-Qahtani, a former close adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, of "instigating premeditated murder with monstrous intent."

It cites "evidence" from phone, travel and CCTV footage, as well as statements from dozens of witnesses.

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

Brutal murder

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and fierce critic of Crown Prince Mohammed, was killed inside Saudi Arabia's consulate, where he had gone in October, 2018, to pick up some documents that would allow him to get married.

He never left the building, and his remains have not been found. Turkish officials allege he was strangled by a 15-man Saudi squad and then dismembered with a saw.

The killing caused an international outcry. Some Western governments, and the CIA linked Crown Prince Mohammed to the crime — a charge Saudi officials have repeatedly rejected.

Trial in absentia

The Istanbul prosecutor's office said it was seeking the arrest of the 20 suspects, all of whom have left Turkey for Saudi Arabia. They face life in jail if convicted.

The two former top aides, al-Qahtani and al-Asiri, were dismissed after Khashoggi's killing. Asiri was tried in Saudi Arabia, but released due to insufficient evidence, while Qahtani was investigated but never charged.

UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard, who led an investigation into the murder, welcomed Wednesday's indictment.

The charges "will help shed further light on the details surrounding the killing: its premeditation and instigation by high level officials," she wrote on Twitter.

A Saudi court last year sentenced five people to death for their role in the murder — a trial Callamard called a mockery of justice because it did not target the alleged masterminds behind the killing.

nm/ng (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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