Ankara (Web Desk) Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says the 15-man Saudi team involved in the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi should be tried in Turkey.
Cavusoglu made the comment on Thursday in reaction to an announcement by Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor who detailed Riyadh’s actions on the case and demanded death penalty for five defendants.
“We find the statement of Saudi Arabia about the murder of Khashoggi positive but not sufficient,” Cavusoglu said.
“The Saudi side will share the details of its investigation with our prosecutor’s office. But we already know that the murder was planned in advance and that the journalist was first killed and the body was later dismembered,” he added.
“And how they would be killing and then disposing of the body was also planned, special devices were brought to the consulate general,” Cavusoglu said, stressing that this is not something that happens instantaneously.
Earlier in the day, Saudi public prosecutor released the results of the long-awaited investigation into the death of Khashoggi, saying a team of Saudi agents who had been dispatched to Istanbul with orders to bring him home alive had instead killed the journalist and dismembered his body.
Shaalan al-Shaalan, a spokesman for the prosecutor, told a news conference in Riyadh that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had no knowledge of the operation.
Al-Shaalan said 11 suspects had been indicted and that the authorities were seeking the death penalty for five of them.
According to Shaalan, the order to kill Khashoggi had come from the leader of the Saudi team in Istanbul.
A statement by Saudi Prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb, circulated by Saudi Press Agency, concluded that the murder had been authorized by a minor official.
His conclusion contradicted assertions by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had said the orders to kill Khashoggi had come from “the highest levels of the Saudi government.”
Al-Mojeb’s statement implicated two higher level officials in what the prosecutor said was an operation intended to either convince or force Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia. One of them, Ahmed al-Assiri, the former deputy head of intelligence, issued an order for Khashoggi’s return on Sept. 29, the prosecutor said.
According to the prosecutor, another official, Saud al-Qahtani, a close adviser to the crown prince, was also involved in planning Khashoggi’s repatriation.
In reaction to the statement, an adviser to the Turkish president said on Thursday that al-Mojeb’s remarks were aimed at covering up the murder, adding the Saudi probe was unlikely to find the perpetrators.
“They expect us to believe the killers carried this out on their own. This isn’t very credible. Everything is clear as day, but there is an effort to cover it up a bit,” Yasin Aktay said.
‘It won’t happen again’
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told a press conference on Thursday the kingdom has taken steps to make sure that this kind of incident does not happen again.
He also noted that the murder of Khashoggi is now a legal case and should not be politicized.
“The politicization of the issue contributes to a fissure in the Islamic world while the kingdom seeks the unity of the Islamic world,” al-Jubeir said.
Jubeir added that there were still unanswered questions in need of answers, but Ankara had refused three requests from Riyadh to provide proof of their accounts of the killing.
His comments come as Ankara has repeatedly urged Riyadh to explain who had given the order for killing Khashoggi, and where his body is.
“There are still questions that need answers” over the premeditated murder, Cavusoglu said on Oct. 25, asking Riyadh to explain “who gave them the orders” and “where the body is”.
Asked about possible international sanctions in response to the case, Jubeir said there was a difference between sanctioning individuals and holding the Saudi government responsible.
Jubeir also noted that bin Salman had “absolutely nothing to do” with the murder of Khashoggi.
Khashoggi has not been seen since October 2, when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Saudi Arabia has admitted that a 15-member “hit squad” killed and dismembered him, but it’s not yet clear where his body is.
US Treasury sanctions 17 Saudis for role in killing Khashoggi
In a relevant development on Thursday, the U.S. Treasury announced sanctions on 17 Saudis for their role in the killing of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
A statement by the US Treasury said, “Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Saud al-Qahtani, his subordinate Maher Mutreb, Saudi Consul General Mohammed Alotaibi, and 14 other members of an operations team for having a role in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.”