The prosecutors have said on March 25 that Turkey has charged at least 20 suspects including two former aides to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. The prosecutors accuse Saudi Arabia’s deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri and the royal court’s media czar Saud al-Qahtani of leading operation and permitting the gruesome killing by Saudi hit team.
Khashoggi used to write for the Washington Post and was killed after he had entered the Saudi consulate on October 2, 2018, to obtain paperwork for his wedding to Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz. After being left dissatisfied with the explanation given by the kingdom, Turkey had carried out its own investigation into the murder. The Istanbul prosecutor’s office has said in a statement that Assiri and Qahtani were charged with ‘instigating the deliberate and monstrous killing, causing torment’.
Among the 18 other those who have been charged by Turkey also include intelligence operative Maher Mutreb who reportedly frequently travelled with the crown prince on foreign tours, forensic expert Salah al-Tubaigy and Fahd al-Balawi, a member of Saudi royal guard. All 20 suspects face life in jail if convicted.
Mutreb, Tubaigy, and Balawi were also among the 11 persons on trial in Riyadh in the previous investigation. However, they reportedly defended themselves by saying that they were carrying out the orders by Assiri and described him as the entire operation’s ‘ringleader’.
Meanwhile, the Turkish prosecutor said that trial in absentia would be opened against all suspects but did not give a date for the same. An arrest warrant has already been issued for people who are not in Turkey by the prosecutors. Khashoggi, a Saudi-turned-critic was not only subject to the gruesome murder, but Turkish officials have also claimed that his body was cut into 15 pieces by a Saudi squad of 15 men inside the consulate. His remains have never been found.
The Central Intelligence Agency, United Nation special envoy Agnes Callamard and Turkey have directly linked Crown Prince Mohammed to the killing, a charge the kingdom vehemently denies.
Image source: AP