The Daily Star (Lebanon)

Turkish minister: Riyadh must cooperate on Khashoggi

Ankara wants 18 suspects in Saudi custody extradited to face trial

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ANKARA/ALMATY, Turkey: Turkey’s justice minister Thursday renewed a call on Saudi Arabia to cooperate in the investigat­ion into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, saying that “no one can escape responsibi­lity.”

Abdulhamit Gul said that Saudi Arabia’s top prosecutor, who spent three days in Istanbul as part of joint Turkish-Saudi efforts to investigat­e the killing, had failed to answer Turkish investigat­ors’ questions about the location of the writer’s remains as well as who ordered the killing.

“We expect these questions to be answered swiftly,” Gul told reporters. “No one can escape responsibi­lity. This issue has become a world matter. It is not an issue that can be covered up.”

He added: “We want the Saudi authoritie­s to enter into close cooperatio­n with us. They have to support [the probe] so that the entire incident is brought to light.”

Istanbul’s chief prosecutor announced Wednesday that The Washington Post columnist was strangled immediatel­y after he entered the consulate on Oct. 2 to collect a document he needed to marry his Turkish fiancee. His body was dismembere­d and removed from the consulate, the prosecutor’s office stated, adding that the killing was premeditat­ed.

The prosecutor’s statement that Khashoggi was killed immediatel­y conflicted with a report by pro-government newspaper Yeni Safak last month, which cited what it described as an audio recording of Khashoggi being tortured before being killed.

Turkey is seeking the extraditio­n of 18 suspects who have been detained in Saudi Arabia so that they can be put on trial in Turkey. They include 15 members of an alleged “hit squad” that Turkey says was sent to Istanbul to kill the 59-yearold journalist, who lived in exile in the United States and had written critically of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Some of those implicated are close to the prince whose condemnati­on of the killing has failed to ease suspicions that he was involved.

Under mounting internatio­nal pressure, Saudi Arabia has changed its narrative about Khashoggi’s killing several times, and has recently acknowledg­ed that Turkish evidence shows it was premeditat­ed.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has close ties to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, meanwhile invited Saudi Arabia’s king and crown prince to visit Kazakhstan at a meeting with another Saudi royal, his office said. It was not clear when the meeting might take place.

The veteran Kazakh leader often gets involved in broader internatio­nal affairs and was credited with helping to resolve a standoff between Ankara and Moscow over the Turkish downing of a Russian jet near the Turkish-Syrian border in 2015. –

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