Shalaan Al Shalaan presents a new version that blames intelligence officers who risk the death sentence. A team was supposed to negotiate with Khashoggi to get him to return home. An order was eventually issued to kill him and cut him up. The Saudi statement leaves Turkey’s Foreign Minister unsatisfied.
Riyadh (AsiaNews) – Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Chief Prosecutor Shalaan Al Shalaan (pictured) gave a new version of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, journalist who disappeared inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul more than a month ago.
Until recently, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) was thought to be involved in the journalist’s death, but the Saudi investigation now blames five of the 15-member team involved in the case. The latter arrived a day before the murder and left on the same day of its execution.
All five alleged could be sentenced to death thus silencing important witnesses forever, as some media note.
For Al Shalaan, the chief suspect was the deputy of the former head of the General Intelligence Directorate, who was ordered to bring Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia, against his will if necessary.
The head of the operation gave the order to kill the journalist if he refused to obey. The latter died in a scuffle that led him to be tied up. After he was injected a drug, he died. His body was then dismembered and the parts handed over to a local "collaborator" for disposal.
For the past month, Turkey has been asking Saudi Arabia for the identity of this collaborator, to no avail. A composite sketch of the collaborator has been produced for Turkish authorities. In any case, the crown prince “did not have any knowledge about it," Al Shalaan stressed.
The injection story is new and contradicts previous Saudi versions that suggested strangulation. In the audio tape leaked to the Turkish press, Khashoggi’s last words are allegedly "I'm suffocating".
Before this, Saudi authorities simply claimed that Khashoggi had left the consulate alive, presenting a video purportedly showing the journalist walking away from the building.
What is intriguing is that the video is the only visual evidence from the consulate’s CCTV cameras that was saved, even though the Saudi prosecutor yesterday said that someone had deleted all video surveillance recordings.
In addition to the heir to the Saudi throne, the Saudi prosecution also cleared MbS’s right-hand man Saud Al Kahtani and the intelligence chief, Ahmad Al Osseiri.
According to the new version, the 15-member team sent "to negotiate" with the journalist arrived in Istanbul on private planes. However, it says nothing about negotiations.
The team included the victim’s double, a forensic pathologist, a bone saw, plus experts in poisons and drugs.
Turkey reacted immediately to the Saudi prosecutor’s statement. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said the new Saudi version was "unsatisfactory".
An article in the Hurriyet newspaper also highlighted the premeditated nature of the murder, saying that it had a 15-minute recording.
Apparently, the voices of the 15-member Saudi team can be heard before the victim’s arrival with each saying what they had to do.
The registration also includes international calls team members made during and after the murder, including to important figures.