Turkish court issues arrest warrant against Saudi hit team in Khashoggi case

Published 01.12.2018 00:00
Updated 01.12.2018 08:00

A Turkish court has issued arrest warrants for 18 suspects, including the 15 members of a Saudi hit squad that was involved in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident journalist killed last month at the kingdom's Istanbul consulate. According to Turkish media reports on Friday, the court ordered the arrest of 18 suspects, upon the request of Istanbul's Chief Public Prosecutor's Office. Ankara has sought the extradition of the suspects from Saudi Arabia to put them on trial in Turkey. The suspects include 15 members of the Saudi "hit squad" that was sent to Istanbul to kill The Washington Post columnist, who had written critically of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).

Previously, Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor İrfan Fidan, who is leading the investigation, announced that Khashoggi, who lived in exile in the U.S., was strangled immediately after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 in what was a premeditated killing. His body was then dismembered and disposed of.

With the aim of shedding light on the Khashoggi killing, Turkey has continued its efforts. It insisted that because the crime was committed on Turkish soil, the suspects need to be tried in Turkey.

Since Saudi Arabia has yet to take steps that will ease the international outcry, Ankara also suggested launching an international inquiry.

High-level Turkish officials have underlined that those responsible for the crime must have been acting on orders and therefore the abettors should be held accountable as well.

Despite the ongoing international outcry, the U.S. has shied away from taking steps against Saudi Arabia, which also faces criticism from a number of U.S. senators.

In the face of increasing pressure to punish Riyadh, U.S. President Donald Trump had called Saudi Arabia a "great ally" and refused to take any action against its leadership, citing multibillion-dollar arms deals and U.S. national security concerns.

On Wednesday, however, U.S. senators sent a strong signal that they wanted to punish Saudi Arabia for its role in the Khashoggi murder and in the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

In a bipartisan 63-37 vote, the Senate opted to move forward with legislation calling for an end to U.S. involvement in the Yemen War.

The vote was a reaction to the Trump administration's inadequate response to the Khashoggi killing and the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Yemen. Yet, in order to become law, the resolution would have to also pass the House of Representatives. Since Republicans hold a majority until January in the House of Representatives, it seems to the Democrats that House Republican leaders will not allow a vote.

Meanwhile, a number of other countries, including Germany and Finland, have already taken steps against Saudi Arabia. Canada on Nov. 29 sanctioned 17 Saudis linked to the Khashoggi killing.

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