'His killers will face justice'

A son of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi expressed confidence that Saudi Arabia would identify his father’s killers, and Turkey released new details of its investigation yesterday that it said showed the Saudi government’s attempts to cover up evidence of the crime.

The son, Salah Khashoggi (35), said in an interview with CNN that the Saudi ruler, King Salman, “has stressed that everybody involved will be brought to justice” for the murder. “And I have faith in that. This will happen,” said Mr Khashoggi, who sat for the interview with his brother, Abdullah (33).

In their first comments to the media since the ‘Washington Post’ contributing columnist was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, the sons said they did not yet know the exact circumstances of their father’s death.

“Everybody’s telling a different story. I’m trying to simplify it as much as possible. He died,” Abdullah said. The sons also said they were seeking the return of their father’s body, which has not been found, so Mr Khashoggi can be buried in Saudi Arabia.

“We just need to make sure that he rests in peace,” Salah said.

“All what we want right now is to bury him in al-Baqi [cemetery] in Medina [Saudi Arabia] with the rest of his family,” Salah said in the interview, filmed in Washington.

“I talked about that with the Saudi authorities and I just hope that it happens soon.”

Meanwhile Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has said Mr Khashoggi’s murder by Saudi agents was premeditated and that the order to kill him “came from the highest levels of the Saudi government”, though he has not specified who he thinks was responsible. Mr Erdogan has also demanded the Saudi government reveals the location of Mr Khashoggi’s body.

Turkey has said that a hit squad sent from Saudi Arabia strangled Mr Khashoggi shortly after he entered the consulate to seek a document he needed for his upcoming marriage to his Turkish fiancée. Turkish authorities said the team dismembered Mr Khashoggi’s body and disposed of it. Bandar Al Aiban, the head of the Saudi government delegation at the first UN review of the kingdom’s record in five years, heard calls from more than 40 nations, including the United States, for a thorough inquiry and a string of rights reforms.

He told the hearing that King Salman had instructed the Saudi public prosecutor to “proceed with the investigation into this case according to the applicable laws” with a view to establishing the facts and “bringing all the perpetrators to justice”.

“As regards the passing of citizen Khashoggi, our country is committed to carrying out a fair investigation and all persons involved with that crime will be prosecuted in the justice system,” Mr Aiban said at the end of the half-day session.

He gave no details on the status or whereabouts of the 18 Saudi nationals detained in connection with the case and repeatedly declined to answer journalists’ questions about them, saying: “The case is still under investigation, as you know…I think my statement was very clear.”

Saudi Arabia has acknowledged that Mr Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents but insisted that the suspects, who it says are in custody in the kingdom, were not acting on the government’s authority.

A Turkish official said yesterday that investigators now believe that Saudi Arabia sent a two-person “clean-up” team to Turkey nine days after Mr Khashoggi’s death, to remove evidence of his killing before Turkish police could search the consulate and residence of the Saudi consul-general.

The official, who was not authorised to comment on the record, said the dispatch of the team to Turkey “suggests that Khashoggi’s slaying was within the knowledge of top Saudi officials”. (© The Washington Post)

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