ANKARA (Dispatches) – 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 foreign intelligence on suspicion of planning the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, two Turkish officials said on Wednesday.
The prosecutor’s office has concluded there is "strong suspicion” that Saud al-Qahtani and General Ahmed al-Asiri, who were removed from their positions in October, were among the planners of the Oct. 2 killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the officials said.
"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 move also comes a day after senior U.S. senators said they were more certain than ever that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was responsible for the killing of Khashoggi after receiving a CIA briefing on the matter.
Making some of their strongest accusations so far, both Republicans and Democrats said they still want to pass legislation to send a message to Saudi Arabia that the United States condemns the death of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist.
But President Donald Trump and some of his fellow Republicans have argued that Washington should not take action that would risk its relationship with Riyadh, which is viewed as an important counterweight to Iran in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Wednesday that an international investigation was needed to determine who was responsible for the murder of Khashoggi in October.
Senior U.S. senators said they were more certain than ever that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was responsible for the killing of Khashoggi after receiving a CIA briefing on the matter.
Bachelet, asked at news conference in Geneva about the need for an international inquiry, replied: "I do believe it is really needed in terms of ensuring what really happened and who are the (people) responsible for that awful killing.”
People hold posters of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and candles during a gathering outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, October 25, 2018.