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‘Sham Trial’: Ankara Seeking ‘Accountability’ From Riyadh After Khashoggi Case Sentencing

© AP Photo / Virginia MayoFILE - In this Jan. 29, 2011 file photo, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks on his cellphone at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Khashoggi was a Saudi insider
FILE - In this Jan. 29, 2011 file photo, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks on his cellphone at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Khashoggi was a Saudi insider - Sputnik International
A Turkish official unsatisfied with the Saudi government’s recent sentencing of five people to death in connection with the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is now calling on members of the press to continue probing the incident.

Fahrettin Altun, Turkey’s director of communications, blasted a recent Saudi’s court ruling as insufficient in regard to the October 2018 disappearance of Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate and his subsequent murder. 

“The international media must pursue the case of Khashoggi until there is true accountability. The verdict of the sham trial is an insult to the intelligence of any fair observer,” the Turkish government official said in a Tuesday tweet. “Those responsible must face justice sooner or later. The international community shouldn’t forget!”

Saudi prosecution spokesman Shalan al-Shalan announced Monday that 11 individuals were charged overall and “five accused persons have been sentenced to capital punishment” over Khashoggi’s death. Three of those charged were sentenced to 24 years in prison. 

"The verdicts issued against those accused are not final, 11 people have been charged, and the criminal prosecution against them has been filed before the Criminal Court in Riyadh,” the spokesman said. 

The court also rejected a previous findings by a United Nations investigative team which determined that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was mainly responsible for the murder of Khashoggi. 

Like the UN, the CIA and US Senate have asserted the crown prince had a hand in the journalist’s killing. 

"It is zero chance — zero — that this happened without the crown prince… you have to be willfully blind" to believe he wasn’t involved, argued Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) after meeting with CIA Director Gina Haspel last year

US President Donald Trump, however, has remained relatively neutral on the issue and even went so far as to say, “maybe he did and maybe he didn't,” when referencing the possibility of the crown prince’s knowledge of the murder back in November 2018. 

Months later, the US president spoke glowingly about the crown prince during the G20 summit and applauded the Saudi leader for doing a “really spectacular job” in many areas of his country, including “opening up Saudi Arabia” for women. 

The crown prince has maintained his innocence and detailed his thoughts on the matter during an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” back in September

“This was a heinous crime. But I take full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia, especially since it was committed by individuals working for the Saudi government,” he said during the broadcast. However, further speculation on the crown prince’s possible involvement was raised when he deemed Khashoggi’s murder a “mistake.” 

In addition to the Turkish official’s rejection of the ruling, Reuters, citing a “source familiar with US intelligence assessment” reported Tuesday that several US government agencies rejected the validity of the Saudi courts. The source also claimed the five individuals sentenced to death were foot soldiers and had a lesser role in the matter than two government officials who were ultimately acquitted in the court proceedings.

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