Journalist’s body was ‘dissolved’
● Turkey suspects Khashoggi’s remains destroyed in acid
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. –