ANKARA – A Turkish court accepted an indictment brought against 20 Saudis, including two former associates of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS), for the brutal murder of prominent dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in 2018.
The 117-page indictment prepared by prosecutors was accepted by the city’s Heavy Penal Court No. 11 on Saturday, Anadolu news agency reported. It identified the associates as former Deputy Intelligence Chief Ahmad Asiri and former royal aide Saud al-Qahtani.
According to the document, Mansour Othman M. Abbahussain, working as a major general and intelligence officer in the Wahhabi Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, “was tasked in the office of bin Salman and instructed by Asiri to bring Khashoggi back to the country and to kill him if he resisted”.
Khashoggi, a former advocate of the Saudi royal court who had become a critic of MbS, was killed and his body dismembered by a Saudi hit squad after being lured into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in early October 2018. The Washington Post, for which Khashoggi was a columnist, reported in November that year that the CIA had concluded that the crown prince personally ordered his killing.
Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur for Extrajudicial Summary or Arbitrary Executions, has stated there was credible evidence that the crown prince and other ranking Saudi officials were individually liable. She has called for an independent and impartial international inquiry into the foul play.
Riyadh has spurned all the allegations linking the killing to MbS and instead claimed that the murder was committed by a “rogue” group. After being assigned to the mission, Abbahussain brought together a 15-strong kill team, including himself, for the murder which he broke into three groups tasked with taking care of intelligence, logistics, and negotiation, the indictment reads.
The indictment charges al-Asiri and al-Qahtani with incitement to deliberate killing through torture and seeks aggravated life sentences for both. It recommends the same sentence for the rest of the Saudis, saying they were in consensus over killing Khashoggi if he refused to return to Saudi Arabia and acted on the decision taken to commit the crime.