Turkey Charges 20 in Khashoggi Killing

Jamal Khashoggi outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul

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.

It charged two top Saudi officials, Saud al-Qahtani, a close adviser to Mohammed, and Ahmed al-Assiri, a former deputy head of Saudi intelligence, with having "instigated premeditated murder with monstrous intent".

Khashoggi was murdered on October 2, 2018, in what Riyadh called a "rogue" operation by Saudi agents, plunging the kingdom into one of its worst diplomatic crises and tarnishing the reputation of the crown prince, the kingdom's de facto ruler.

His remains have not been found.

Saudi authorities blamed a "rogue operation" for Khashoggi's death.

A number of Western governments and the United Nations believe the future king, known as MBS, issued the order to kill Khashoggi.

Investigators believe that as she waited outside, the 59-year-old was murdered and then dismembered.

"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".

Turkey carried out its own probe after being unsatisfied with Saudi Arabia's explanations.

The murder caused relations between Ankara and Riyadh - longstanding rivals - to worsen.

The prosecutor said the suspects were in agreement to bring Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia, and kill him if he refused to go.

Saudi Arabia views the Brotherhood as an existential threat.

The latter announcement appeared to be a sign that the Turkish government could still indict bin Salman who has been accused of ordering the killing. "This is our responsibility", Erdogan told Fox News past year.

The 18 were charged with "deliberately and monstrously killing, causing torment" and face life in jail if convicted. Western officials said many of those accused defended themselves by saying they were carrying out Assiri's orders, describing him as the operation's ringleader.

In December, a Saudi court sentenced five people to death and imprisoned three over Khashoggi's murder.

Al Jazeera's Sinem Koseoglu, reporting from Istanbul, said no one in Turkey has any idea on why this indictment was announced and a public case opened given the coronavirus pandemic.

The prosecutor had already issued arrest warrants for the suspects, who are not in Turkey.



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