Turkish prosecutors on Wednesday charged 20 suspects including two former top aides to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the brutal 2018 murder of Riyadh critic Jamal Khashoggi
Prosecutors accuse Saudi Arabia’s deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri and the royal court’s media tsar Saud al-Qahtani of leading the operation against Khashoggi and giving orders to a Saudi hit team.
Khashoggi, 59, a commentator 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.
The Saudi insider-turned-critic was strangled and his body cut into pieces by a 15-man Saudi squad inside the consulate, according to Turkish officials.
His remains have never been found despite repeated calls by Turkey for the Saudis to cooperate.
Riyadh insists he was killed in a “rogue” operation.
But the CIA, a UN special rapporteur and Ankara have directly linked the Saudi crown prince to the killing, a charge vehemently denied.
Cengiz on Wednesday welcomed the charges, describing the prosecutor’s decision as a “good step towards justice”.
She urged the US National Director of Intelligence to publish a report on who is responsible for the murder, and called on Washington to carry out “an international investigation”.
“Not holding Jamal’s real killers accountable gives those officials a green light to continue their oppression of their people (and) sends the wrong message to the world that the wealthy and powerful are above the law.”
– ‘Monstrous killing’ –
Turkey carried out its own investigation after being unhappy with Saudi Arabia’s explanations.
The Istanbul prosecutor’s office said in a statement that Assiri and Qahtani were charged with “instigating the deliberate and monstrous killing, causing torment”.
The murder caused relations between Ankara and Riyadh — longstanding rivals — to worsen.
Saudis, who enjoy investing and holidaying in Turkey, were urged to boycott the country last year.
Turkey meanwhile is a key backer of Qatar, especially after a Riyadh-led economic blockade began against the Gulf state in 2017, and is accused of supporting groups including the Muslim Brotherhood.