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Istanbul prosecutor seeks arrest of Saudi officials over Khashoggi killing 

Ankara, December 6  Istanbul’s chief prosecutor has filed warrants for the arrest of a top aide to Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler and the deputy head of its foreign intelligence on suspicion of planning the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, two Turkish officials said on Wednesday.

The prosecutor’s office has concluded there is “strong suspicion” that Saud al-Qahtani and General Ahmed al-Asiri, both removed from their positions in October, were among the planners of Khashoggi’s October 2 killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the officials said.

The move comes a day after senior US senators said they were more certain than ever that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for the killing, citing a CIA briefing.

A group of the US senators introduced a resolution on Wednesday urging the US government to hold the crown prince accountable for a number of actions, including the Khashoggi killing and contributing to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

The United Nations human rights chief on Wednesday called for an international investigation. 

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has pushed to keep international attention on the murder—the order for which he says came from the highest levels of the Saudi government—even as US President Donald Trump has said Washington should not take action that would undermine its relationship with the kingdom.

“The prosecution’s move to issue arrest warrants for Asiri and Qahtani reflects the view that the Saudi authorities won’t take formal action against those individuals,” one of the Turkish officials said.

“The international community seems to doubt Saudi Arabia’s commitment to prosecute this heinous crime. By extraditing all suspects to Turkey, where Jamal Khashoggi was killed and dismembered, the Saudi authorities could address those concerns,” the official said.

Erdogan has said the order for Khashoggi’s killing probably did not come from King Salman, putting the spotlight instead on Salman’s heir and de facto ruler Prince Mohammed.

Saudi Arabia has said the prince had no prior knowledge of the murder. After offering numerous contradictory explanations, Riyadh later said Khashoggi had been killed and his body dismembered when negotiations to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.

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