Turkey seeks arrest of Saudis over Khashoggi
UN rights boss seeks international inquiry;
ISTANBUL, Dec 5: A Turkish court has issued arrest warrants for two suspects close to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, raising pressure on the kingdom's de facto leader after two US senators accused him of ordering the hit.
Saudi Arabia has sought to distance Prince Mohammed from the murder and has received support from the administration of US President Donald Trump, which has downplayed possible links between the crown prince and what happened to Khashoggi.
But two key senators from Trump's own Republican party said on Tuesday that a briefing by the CIA's director had strengthened their conviction that Prince Mohammed directed the murder. Khashoggi, a Saudi contributor to the Washington Post, was killed shortly after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain paperwork for his upcoming marriage. The chief prosecutor's office in Istanbul filed an application on Tuesday to obtain the warrants for Ahmad al-Assiri and Saud al-Qahtani, described in court documents as being "among the planners" of Khashoggi's grisly killing. Then on Wednesday, an Istanbul court issued the arrest warrants for Assiri and Qahtani on the charge of "deliberately killing (someone) with monstrous feeling or causing torment", according to state news agency Anadolu.
Assiri, the former deputy head of general intelligence, often sat in during Prince Mohammed's closed-door meetings with visiting foreign dignitaries, while Qahtani was a key counsellor to the crown prince. Both were sacked after Riyadh admitted Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate.
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 Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October. 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."
Two key US Republican senators said a Tuesday briefing by the CIA's director only strengthened their conviction that Saudi Arabia's crown prince directed the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The explosive new declarations by members of President Donald Trump's own party run counter to the White House narrative downplaying possible links between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the October killing of journalist and palace critic Khashoggi at the kingdom's Istanbul consulate.
"I have zero question in my mind that the crown prince directed the murder and was kept appraised of the situation all the way through it," Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker told reporters after CIA director Gina Haspel briefed a small group of senators. "If MBS were in front of a jury, he'd be convicted in less than 30 minutes," Corker said, using the prince's initials.
Fellow Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally who has joined a growing collection of lawmakers urging the president to take a far tougher stance against Riyadh, also attended the hour-long closed-door briefing, and minced no words afterwards. The crown prince is "crazy" and "a wrecking ball" who is "complicit in the murder of Mr Khashoggi to the highest level possible," Graham said in withering criticism of an American ally. "There's not a smoking gun but a smoking saw." -AFP