Amer­i­can pas­tor Brunson’s trial in Izmir con­tin­ues to­day

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page -

THE Amer­i­can evan­gel­i­cal pas­tor An­drew Brunson, who was ar­rested in Turkey in Septem­ber 2016 for al­leged links to the PKK ter­ror­ist group and the Gülenist Ter­ror Group (FETÖ), the per­pe­tra­tor of the July 15 coup at­tempt in 2016, will stand trial to­day in his fourth hear­ing.

More than one week af­ter the dis­ap­pear­ance of Saudi jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi at his coun­try’s con­sulate in Is­tan­bul, Turk­ish of­fi­cials speak­ing to Mid­dle East Eye say they had knowl­edge of the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing his ‘mur­der’ in­side the build­ing and now sus­pect he was buried in the gar­den of the con­sul-gen­eral’s res­i­dence

PEND­ING a search of the Saudi Con­sulate in Is­tan­bul, Turk­ish of­fi­cials be­lieve Ja­mal Khashoggi, a Saudi jour­nal­ist crit­i­cal of Riyadh, was mur­dered in the build­ing on Oct. 2. Speak­ing to Mid­dle East Eye, sources close to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion said the 59-year-old jour­nal­ist was dragged from the con­sul gen­eral’s of­fice in­side the build­ing in Is­tan­bul’s Levent district and were mur­dered by two men who later pro­ceeded to dis­mem­ber his body. Of­fi­cials, who did not dis­close their names, said they knew when and where in the build­ing Khashoggi was killed and hinted that he might be buried in the gar­den of the con­sul gen­eral’s res­i­dence. “If the foren­sic team is al­lowed in, they know ex­actly where to go,” a Turk­ish source with knowl­edge of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion told Mid­dle East Eye.

Me­dia out­lets re­ported that Saudi of­fi­cials with­drew their ap­proval of a search by Turk­ish se­cu­rity forces of the premises re­gard­ing Khashoggi’s dis­ap­pear­ance af­ter pho­tos of Saudi “hit squad” sent to in­ter­ro­gate, tor­ture, kill and dis­pose the jour­nal­ist’s body were pub­lished by Turk­ish me­dia. Saudi me­dia claims the “squad” in ques­tion were “Saudi tourists vis­it­ing Turkey” and not re­lated to the in­ci­dent. In­deed, re­ports show the 15 men in ques­tion checked in two ho­tels in Is­tan­bul the day Khashoggi dis­ap­peared but they also flew back home the same day. Their iden­ti­ties as re­ported by Sabah news­pa­per show they are far from Saudi and came to see the sights in Is­tan­bul. The del­e­ga­tion mainly con­sists of Saudi royal guards and a prom­i­nent foren­sic medicine ex­pert.

The Sabah news­pa­per re­ports that a search of the con­sul gen­eral’s res­i­dence may hold the key to the fate of Khashoggi. Surveil­lance cam­era footage shows two cars leav­ing the con­sulate for nearby res­i­dence of Con­sul Gen­eral Mo­ham­mad Otaibi, about two hours af­ter the jour­nal­ist was spot­ted en­ter­ing the con­sulate build­ing. As a Mer­cedes Vito black van with li­cense plates of 34 CC 1865 ap­proaches the con­sul gen­eral’s house, a man is seen talk­ing on his phone out­side and some five peo­ple en­ter­ing the house. The van, pre­sumed to be car­ry­ing Khashoggi, was then taken to the res­i­dence’s garage, in­stead of park­ing out­side.

Pro­fes­sor Hamit Hancı, who heads the As­so­ci­a­tion of Foren­sic Ex­perts, says a team of “cleaners” could have been sent by Saudi Ara­bia to dis­pose of the body of Khashoggi if he was mur­dered. Speak­ing to İh­las News Agency, Hancı said that tech­nol­ogy was ad­vanced enough to re­move blood stains or even its odor through the use of chem­i­cals. “You can in­vite any­one to search the scene af­ter clean­ing it prop­erly,” he said. Hancı said “pro­fes­sion­als” could eas­ily re­move the body from con­sulate and there were “mul­ti­ple sce­nar­ios” to what hap­pened af­ter­wards if this is the case. “It is pos­si­ble to dis­mem­ber the body and put body parts in small lug­gage and take it abroad. They could have chopped up the body to smaller pieces and dump it at sea or land­fills and this would make their dis­cov­ery more dif­fi­cult,” he said.

“A team of pro­fes­sion­als can re­move all ev­i­dence [of mur­der] in 24 hours and it has been a week [since the dis­ap­pear­ance of Khashoggi],” he said, adding that a small hu­man tis­sue left be­hind could be suf­fi­cient for Turk­ish in­ves­ti­ga­tors to de­tect a mur­der at the premises through DNA iden­ti­fi­ca­tion. He said surveil­lance cam­eras would be help­ful if the po­lice in­ves­ti­gate the move­ments of peo­ple in­volved in pos­si­ble mur­der. “You can de­tect if peo­ple in ques­tion are anx­ious while leav­ing the build­ing and if the weight of any lug­gage they carry changed,” he said.

Khashoggi, once close to the royal fam­ily, left for the United States for a self­im­posed ex­ile af­ter he raised crit­i­cism of Riyadh’s poli­cies on a num­ber of is­sues. He was crit­i­cal of ar­bi­trary de­ten­tions in his home coun­try and is be­lieved to an­gered Saudi Ara­bia’s Crown Prince Muham­mad bin Sal­man (also widely known as MBS). The Wash­ing­ton Post, where Khashoggi penned columns, claimed MBS or­dered an op­er­a­tion tar­get­ing him, cit­ing U.S. in­tel­li­gence in­ter­cepts.

The Saudi jour­nal­ist was at the con­sulate for pa­per­work re­quired for his up­com­ing mar­riage to his Turk­ish fi­ancee Hat­ice Cen­giz. Cen­giz was the last ac­quain­tance to see him alive and alerted au­thor­i­ties when Khashoggi did not emerge from the con­sulate long af­ter the build­ing was closed.

Mean­while, re­ac­tion to Khashoggi’s dis­ap­pear­ance grows in the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. Speak­ing to AFP yes­ter­day, U.K. For­eign Sec­re­tary Jeremy Hunt said Saudi Ara­bia would face se­ri­ous con­se­quences if claims about Khashoggi are true.

“Peo­ple who have long thought of them­selves as Saudi’s friends are say­ing this is a very, very se­ri­ous mat­ter. If these al­le­ga­tions are true, there will be se­ri­ous con­se­quences be­cause our friend­ships and our part­ner­ships are based on shared val­ues,” he said, adding that they were “ex­tremely wor­ried.” Hunt said he had spo­ken to Saudi For­eign Min­is­ter Adel al-Jubeir and had told him “how very, very con­cerned the United King­dom is.”

A surveil­lance cam­era out­side the Saudi Con­sulate in Is­tan­bul. Turk­ish me­dia out­lets re­leased cam­era im­ages show­ing a black van leav­ing the con­sulate for the nearby res­i­dence of the Saudi con­sul­gen­eral and un­con­firmed re­ports say Khashoggi was forcibly taken there in the van.

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