A Turkish court has accepted charges against twenty suspects over the 2018 killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
The decision from Istanbul’s Heavy Penal Court, on April 11, came after Turkish prosecutors presented 117-page indictment accusing 20 Saudi nationals of involvement in the gruesome murder.
Among those accused are former Saudi Deputy Intelligence Chief Ahmad Asiri and former royal aide Saud al-Qahtani with instigating the murder.
The indictment accuses 18 others of carrying out the “deliberate and monstrous killing” inside the Saudi consulate. Prosecutors are seeking aggravated life sentences for all of the accused.
Jamal Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by a group of Saudi operatives shortly after he entered the country’s consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018. His body has never been recovered.
At the time of his death, the 59-year-old journalist was a prominent critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, penning a regular column for the Washington Post.
The Saudi authorities initially denied all knowledge of Mr Khashoggi’s killing. However, evidence leaked by Turkish officials demonstrated a premeditated murder had taken place inside the Saudi Consulate.
Saudi authorities then blamed a “rogue operation” for the journalist’s death.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (pictured below) denies he ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi
An initial investigation by United Nations special rapporteur Agnes Callamard found that the death of the journalist was “an international crime”. In a 100-page report published last June, she said:
“It is the conclusion of the special rapporteur that Mr Khashoggi has been the victim of a deliberate, premeditated execution, an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible under international human rights law.”
Western intelligence agencies believe Jamal Khashoggi’s death was ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – something he denies.
In December, a court in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sentenced five unnamed people to death and jailed three more over the murder. The court case was regarded by many as a sham, including Mehmet Çelik, Managing Editor of English language newspaper Daily Sabah, who told Al Jazeera:
“The fact that several high-profile people have not been charged raises questions around the credibility of the trial and whether or not these people [sentenced to death] were chosen as scapegoats.”
Jamal Khashoggi, March 2018. Photo © April Brady / POMED, Wikipedia/CC By 2.0