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Turkish prosecutor releases indictment in Khashoggi murder case, revealing new evidence

Khashoggi's remains have never been found [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 April, 2020

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Jamal Khashoggi's murder caused relations between Ankara and Riyadh - longstanding rivals - to worsen.
The Turkish public prosecutor on Monday released the full indictment against 20 Saudi nationals, including two former top aides to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, charged with the brutal 2018 murder of Riyadh critic Jamal Khashoggi. 

The charged nationals include Saudi Arabia's deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri and the royal court's media tsar Saud al-Qahtani and accuses them of leading the operation against Khashoggi and giving orders to a Saudi hit team.  

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.

The 117-page indictment prepared by the prosecution began by introducing Khashoggi, how he fled from Saudi Arabia, the articles he wrote critical of the Saudi regime and the threats he received from al-Qahtani that he will "soon pay the price".

Khashoggi, 59, a commentator who wrote for The Washington Post, had first visited the consulate on September 28, 2018, to submit paperwork required for marrying his Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz.

The prosecution revealed that Khashoggi's September visit gave reassurances that he would come to the consulate to complete the paperwork, which he did on October 2, when he was murdered.

The indictment included photographic and video evidence from the Saudi consulate in Ankara and the residence of the Saudi consul.

A search of Khashoggi's computer revealed that he had received numerous threats via his Twitter account.

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

'Monstrous killing'

On March 25, the Istanbul prosecutor's office said in a statement that Assiri and Qahtani were charged with "instigating the deliberate and monstrous killing, causing torment".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed Ankara will not give up the case. 

"This happened in my country, how am I not going to follow up on that? Of course I'm going to follow up. This is our responsibility," Erdogan told Fox News last year.

Eighteen other suspects - including intelligence operative Maher Mutreb who frequently travelled with the crown prince on foreign tours, forensic expert Salah al-Tubaigy and Fahad al-Balawi, a member of the Saudi royal guard - were also charged with "deliberately and monstrously killing, causing torment".

They face life in jail if convicted.

Mutreb, Tubaigy and Balawi had been among 11 people on trial in Riyadh. 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.

Five unnamed people were sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia in December while three others were handed jail terms totalling 24 years over the killing.

Qahtani had been investigated but he was not charged by the Saudi authorities because of "insufficient evidence" while Assiri was charged but eventually acquitted on the same grounds.

The Turkish prosecutor said a trial in absentia would be opened against the 20 suspects but did not give a date.

The prosecutors have already issued arrest warrants for the suspects who are not in Turkey.

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