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Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in Istanbul on 2 October
Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in Istanbul on 2 October
Image: Hasan Jamali/Associated Press

Saudi official wore murdered journalist's clothes outside Turkish consulate in bid to mislead investigators

Jamal Khashoggi was killed on 2 October after stepping inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Oct 22nd 2018, 7:34 PM 30,194 50

US President Donald Trump says he is “not satisfied” with Saudi Arabia’s explanation of how journalist Jamal Khashoggi died inside its consulate in Istanbul.

It comes as images emerged showing a Saudi official wearing the murdered journalist’s clothes in an apparent bid to mislead investigators into believing he was still alive.

CNN International broadcast images which purported to show the official acting as a body double for Khashoggi, who was killed on 2 October after stepping inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

It’s believed that the official wore the clothes while leaving the consulate in an attempt to falsely show that the former Washington Post columnist left safely.

Asked if he believed the Saudis were telling the truth about the circumstances surrounding the 59-year-old’s death three weeks ago, Trump told reporters at the White House: “We will know very soon”.

“I am going to know very shortly because I have a great group of people in Turkey right now and a great group of people in Saudi Arabia,” Trump said. 

“They are coming back tonight and tomorrow and I will know very soon. And I am not satisfied with what I have heard.”

‘Mocked’

White House advisor Jared Kushner – the son-in-law of President Donald Trump – said he had urged Prince Mohammed to be “fully transparent” as “the world is watching”.

After more than two weeks of near silence, Saudi Arabia finally admitted on Saturday that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, but the kingdom’s explanations are being seen as contradictory and evasive.

The case has shone the spotlight on Crown Prince Mohammed, who has spearheaded a reform drive for the kingdom but now faces a stream of allegations that he ordered the killing.

A spokesman for Turkey’s ruling party Omer Celik said the killing “was planned in an extremely savage manner”, the first official indication that Ankara believes a murder plan was coordinated in advance.

“We are faced with a situation where there has been a lot of effort to whitewash this,” he complained.

One of Erdogan’s advisors, Yasin Aktay, wrote in the Yeni Safak daily that the Saudi version given so far “feels like our intelligence is being mocked”.

“From the start, the line of our president has been clear. Nothing will remain secret in this case,” presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told reporters, a day ahead of a key speech by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the case.

The newspaper said that Saudi official Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, head of a team of 15 Saudis sent to Istanbul for the task, called the head of Prince Mohammed’s office “four times after the murder”.

Abdulkadir Selvi, whose newspaper columns are closely watched for indications of Erdogan’s thinking, wrote that Khashoggi was slowly strangled to death for eight minutes and a Saudi forensic specialist then dismembered his body while listening to music.

Abandoned vehicle

“We cannot close this file until the crown prince is brought to account and removed from his post. For 50 years we cannot live with a crown prince who is an enemy of Turkey,” said Selvi.

Meanwhile with Khashoggi’s remains still missing, Turkish police found an abandoned car belonging to the Saudi consulate in an underground car park in the Sultangazi district of Istanbul, state media said.

Erdogan has so far stopped short of directly pointing the finger at Riyadh.

Analysts say he preferred to authorise the leak of incriminating information to pro-government media to pressure the kingdom.

He has twice held telephone talks with King Salman on the crisis, with some analysts arguing Erdogan was seeking to preserve Turkish-Saudi relations through the ageing monarch while sidelining his son Prince Mohammed.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Berlin would not export arms to Riyadh “in the current situation”, despite Germany’s approval last month of €416 million worth of arms exports to Saudi Arabia for 2018.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, whose country is also a key arms supplier to Riyadh, told parliament: “We must get to the truth of what happened.”

© – AFP, 2018

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