SUN 17 - 2 - 2019
Dec 6, 2018
The Daily Star
Istanbul prosecutor seeks arrest of Saudi officials over Khashoggi killing
ANKARA: Istanbul's chief prosecutor has filed warrants for the arrest of a top aide to Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler and the deputy head of its foreign intelligence on suspicion of planning the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, two Turkish officials said Wednesday.
The prosecutor's office has concluded there is "strong suspicion" that Saud al-Qahtani and General Ahmed al-Asiri, both removed from their positions in October, were among the planners of Khashoggi's Oct. 2 killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the officials said.
The move comes a day after senior U.S. senators said they were more certain than ever that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for the killing, citing a CIA briefing. The United Nations human rights chief Wednesday called for an international investigation.
"The prosecution's move to issue arrest warrants for Asiri and Qahtani reflects the view that the Saudi authorities won't take formal action against those individuals," one of the Turkish officials said.
"The international community seems to doubt Saudi Arabia's commitment to prosecute this heinous crime. By extraditing all suspects to Turkey, where Jamal Khashoggi was killed and dismembered, the Saudi authorities could address those concerns," the official said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the order for Khashoggi's killing probably did not come from King Salman, putting the spotlight instead on Salman's heir and de facto ruler Prince Mohammad.
Saudi Arabia has said the prince had no prior knowledge of the murder. After offering numerous contradictory explanations, Riyadh later said Khashoggi had been killed and his body dismembered when negotiations to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.
Erdogan has said that solving the Khashoggi killing would also be in the interest of the Saudi monarchy.
The United States last month imposed economic sanctions on 17 Saudi officials for their role in the killing. Among those sanctioned were Qahtani, who was formerly a top aide to the crown prince.
Qahtani had tried to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia after he moved to Washington a year ago fearing reprisals for his views, according to people close to the journalist and the government.
But Asiri, the former deputy head of foreign intelligence, was not on the sanctions list. Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor has said Asiri was the one who ordered the operation to repatriate – but not kill – Khashoggi.
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