Turkey indicts six more Saudis over Khashoggi murder

Published September 29, 2020
Slaim journalist Jamal Khashoggi. — Reuters/File
Slaim journalist Jamal Khashoggi. — Reuters/File

ISTANBUL: Turkish prosecutors have indicted six new Saudis suspected of involvement in the 2018 murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, local media reported on Monday.

Istanbul prosecutors are seeking life imprisonment for two of the suspects and up to five years in jail for the remaining four, the official Anadolu news agency reported.

The Washington Post contributor, Khashoggi, 59, was killed and dismembered at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, in a case that tarnished the reputation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Khashoggi went inside the consulate to obtain paperwork for his marriage to Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz.

The six Saudi suspects, indicted just days ahead of the second anniversary of the journalist’s death, are not in Turkey and should be tried in absentia, according to local reports.

In a separate case launched in July, an Istanbul court began to try in absentia 20 other Saudis over the murder, including two former aides to the Saudi prince.

Turkish prosecutors claim Saudi deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri and the royal court’s media czar Saud al-Qahtani led the operation and gave orders to a Saudi hit team.

Khashoggi was strangled and his body cut into pieces by a 15-man Saudi squad inside the consulate, according to Turkish officials. His remains have not been found.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the order to murder Khashoggi came from “the highest levels” of the Saudi government but has never directly blamed Prince Mohammed.

In September, a Saudi court overturned five death sentences issued after a closed-door trial in Saudi Arabia that ended last year, sentencing them to 20 years in prison instead.Twenty Saudi nationals are already on trial in an Istanbul court for Khashoggi’s killing. CNN Turk said the indictment against the six suspects, including two consulate workers and four other Saudi nationals, was sent to the court to be combined with the main case.

Two of the suspects, a vice consul and an attache, were facing life jail sentences for premeditated murder with monstrous intent, the broadcaster said.

The four others, who CNN Turk said had arrived in Istanbul on Oct 10-11, 2018, more than a week after the killing, were charged with destroying, concealing or tampering with evidence, which carries a sentence of up to five years in jail.

The Istanbul prosecutor’s office did not immediately provide comment on the media reports.

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2020

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