Turkish prosecutors filed charges Wednesday against 20 people in connection with the killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khoshoggi nearly 18 months ago.
The prosecutors filed indictments that charge two suspects with inciting first-degree murder, while the other 18 were charged with aiding in Khoshoggi's death and mutilation at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018.
The two charged with inciting the writer's death were identified as Ahmed al-Asiri, the former deputy head of Saudi Arabia's general intelligence, and former royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani.
Khashoggi was killed after he'd gone to the consulate to obtain documentation for his upcoming wedding. Investigators said he was ambushed by multiple suspects who were waiting there.
Chief prosecutor Irfan Fidan said Wednesday arrest warrants had been issued against all 20 suspects -- none of whom are in Turkey -- and they will likely be tried in absentia.
The death of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who was often critical of the Saudi royal family, was investigated for months and led to accusations involving the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman -- Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler -- and King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
The United Nations, Central Intelligence Agency and multiple Western governments said the crown prince had likely ordered the killing himself, or he had tacit knowledge of the plot.
Bin Salman has accepted responsibility for Khashoggi's death, "because it happened under my watch," but has denied any personal involvement.
A Saudi court in December tried 11 people in connection with Khoshoggi's slaying, sentenced five to death and jailed three others. But prosecutors had declined to bring charges against Qahtani and dismissed the counts leveled against Asiri.
Saudi prosecutors said their investigation shows there was no premeditation to kill Khashoggi, and that a "negotiations team" had intended only to bring him back to Saudi Arabia, by force, if necessary, they said.
U.N. special rapporteur Agnes Callamard called the closed Saudi trial "the antithesis of justice" and "a mockery."
Copyright © UPI, 2020. All Rights Reserved.