Istanbul prosecutor indicts two top Saudi officials in Khashoggi’s murder

Prosecutors in Istanbul said on Wednesday that they had prepared an indictment against a family member of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and a former deputy chief of general intelligence on the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The prosecutor’s office accused the two men of instigating the murder of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and appointed 18 suspects who they said committed the murder, which caused a worldwide outcry.

Khashoggi was last seen at the entrance to the consulate on October 2, 2018, where he had gone to fetch documents for his impending marriage. Turkish authorities said his body had been dismembered and removed from the building, but his body was not found.

Some Western governments, as well as the CIA, have said they believe Prince Mohammed has ordered the murder – an accusation that Saudi authorities have denied.

The indictment accuses former deputy chief of general intelligence of Saudi Arabia Ahmed al-Asiri and former royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani of “causing a premeditated murder with monstrous intent”, said the prosecution.

He says the others have suffocated Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who had become increasingly critical of Prince Mohammed’s actions, after agreeing in advance that he should be killed if he did not return with them. Saudi Arabia.

The list of 18 suspected killers includes a team of 15 who flew to Turkey to carry out the operation, and three intelligence officials.

The Saudi media ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The suspects still free

Qahtani and Asiri were removed from office after the murder of Khashoggi. Asiri was later tried in Saudi Arabia, but released for lack of sufficient evidence, said a Saudi prosecutor. Qahtani was investigated but has not been charged. Sources said he remained active in state affairs.

In December, a Saudi Arabian court sentenced five people and three to death for the murder of Khashoggi in a trial that a United Nations rapporteur described as a mockery of justice because it did not target those whom she described as the brains of the operation.

The court did not identify those sentenced to death.

Wednesday’s indictment was based on an analysis of the suspects’ telephone records, their entry and exit to Turkey and their presence at the consulate, witness statements and analysis of Khashoggi’s telephone and computers, a said the prosecution.

The murder of Khashoggi, which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said had been ordained at the “highest level” of the Saudi government, strained ties between Ankara and Riyadh.

Turkey has accused Saudi officials of obstructing investigations at the consulate, while the Saudis have repeatedly said that the Istanbul prosecutor has not acceded to their requests for information sharing.

Prince Mohammed denied ordering the murder, but said he bore ultimate responsibility as the de facto head of the kingdom. Saudi Arabia initially denied any involvement or knowledge of Khashoggi’s death, but later changed positions several times.

(REUTERS)