Jour­nal­ist’s body was ‘dis­solved’

● Turkey sus­pects Khashoggi’s re­mains de­stroyed in acid

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - World - Raziye Akkoc and Daniel Lawler

The body of Ja­mal Khashoggi was “dis­solved” af­ter he was mur­dered and dis­mem­bered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, a Turk­ish of­fi­cial said on Fri­day, as Khashoggi’s fi­ancee crit­i­cised the US re­ac­tion as “de­void of moral foun­da­tion”.

The mur­der of the royal in­sider-turned-critic pro­voked wide­spread out­rage and fu­elled an in­ter­na­tional de­bate about arms de­liv­er­ies to Saudi Ara­bia.

Turkey’s chief prose­cu­tor on Wed­nes­day con­firmed that Khashoggi was stran­gled as soon as he entered the consulate on Oc­to­ber 2 as part of a planned hit, and his body was dis­mem­bered and de­stroyed.

“We now see that it wasn’t just cut up. They got rid of the body by dis­solv­ing it,” Yasin Ak­tay, an of­fi­cial in Turkey’s rul­ing party, told the Hur­riyet news­pa­per on Fri­day.

The claim echoed what a Turk­ish of­fi­cial had ear­lier told the Wash­ing­ton Post – for which Khashoggi was a con­trib­u­tor – that au­thor­i­ties are in­ves­ti­gat­ing a the­ory the body was de­stroyed in acid.

“Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est in­for­ma­tion we have, the rea­son they cut up the body is it was eas­ier to dis­solve it,” Ak­tay, an ad­viser to Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan, who was close to Khashoggi, said.

“They aimed to en­sure no sign of the body was left.”

The Turk­ish of­fi­cial quoted by the Wash­ing­ton Post said that “bi­o­log­i­cal ev­i­dence” found in the consulate’s gar­den in­di­cated the body was likely to have been dis­posed of near where Khashoggi was killed.

US State Depart­ment spokesper­son Robert Pal­ladino on Thurs­day called for Khashoggi’s re­mains to be lo­cated and re­turned to his fam­ily for burial as soon as pos­si­ble.

Khashoggi’s fi­ancee Hat­ice Cen­giz, who waited out­side the consulate as the jour­nal­ist entered to ob­tain doc­u­ments for their up­com­ing mar­riage, said what was done to his body was “bru­tal, bar­baric and ruth­less”.

“It is now up to the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to bring the per­pe­tra­tors to jus­tice. Of all na­tions, the United States should be lead­ing the way,” Cen­giz said in opin­ion ar­ti­cle pub­lished in the Wash­ing­ton Post, The Guardian and other me­dia out­lets on Fri­day.

“The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has taken a po­si­tion that is de­void of moral foun­da­tion,” she wrote, adding that “there will be no cover-up”.

The mur­der has placed strain on the decades-old al­liance be­tween the US and Saudi Ara­bia and tar­nished the im­age of Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man, the ul­tra-con­ser­va­tive king­dom’s de facto ruler.

US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo has in­di­cated sanc­tions will soon be im­posed on the in­di­vid­u­als re­spon­si­ble.

“It’ll take us prob­a­bly a hand­ful more weeks be­fore we have enough ev­i­dence to ac­tu­ally put those sanc­tions in place, but I think we’ll get there,” he said on Thurs­day.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has called the affair “one of the worst cover-ups in his­tory”, but warned halt­ing a Saudi arms deal would harm US jobs.

Er­do­gan has called for the 18 sus­pects – in­clud­ing the al­leged 15-man hit team who trav­elled to Istanbul and left the same day – to be ex­tra­dited for trial in Turkey.

In her ar­ti­cle, Cen­giz noted that the one-month an­niver­sary of Khashoggi’s death fell on the UN’s In­ter­na­tional Day to End Im­punity for Crimes against Jour­nal­ists.

“We must all send a clear mes­sage that au­thor­i­tar­ian regimes can­not kill jour­nal­ists ever again,” she said. –

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