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‘The mission’: Riyadh’s version of Khashoggi murder

By AFP - Nov 15,2018 - Last updated at Nov 15,2018

Riyadh — Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor on Thursday released its account of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate. 

Here are the conclusions of the official Saudi investigation into how the prominent critic ended up dead and dismembered: 

 

Plotting ‘the mission’ 

 

The prosecutor’s statement said “the incident” began on September 29, 2018 when a “former” deputy chief of intelligence ordered the “leader of the mission” to “bring back the victim by means of persuasion, and if persuasion fails, to do so by force”.

While the prosecutor’s office did not give names, General Ahmad al-Assiri, who was fired as deputy head of intelligence in the wake of the killing, has been implicated in the Khashoggi murder. 

The mission leader — also not named in the report — then put together a 15-member team to “return” the journalist from Turkey.

Khashoggi had an appointment set for October 2 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to collect paperwork for his upcoming wedding to his Turkish fiancee. 

The team included a forensics expert “for the purpose of removing evidence from the scene” and a local collaborator tasked with securing a safe house “in case force had to be used to return the victim”. 

The team also included one of Khashoggi’s former colleagues “because of his previous relationship with the victim”, the prosecutor said. 

An unnamed former royal adviser told the team that Khashoggi had likely been “coopted by organisations and states hostile to the kingdom” and that his residence outside Saudi Arabia presented a “threat to national security”. 

Khashoggi, who had been linked to the Muslim Brotherhood early in his career, had lived in self-imposed exile in the US state of Virginia since 2017. 

 

‘The murder’ 

 

“The head of the negotiation team decided to murder the victim if the negotiations failed,” the public prosecutor’s statement says. 

A physical altercation after Khashoggi entered the consulate led to him being “forcibly restrained and injected with a large amount of a drug resulting in an overdose that led to his death, may Allah bless his soul”, the statement said.

The official cause of death is listed as a drug overdose. 

“After the murder the victim’s body was dismembered by the individuals that have committed the murder and was transferred outside the consulate building,” the statement continues 

The body parts were “delivered” to the local collaborator and another man put on Khashoggi’s clothes and posed as the journalist exiting the consulate. 

According to Saudi Arabian investigators, the cameras inside the Istanbul consulate were disabled during the drugging and dismemberment of Khashoggi. 

Saudi authorities have 21 people in custody in connection with the murder, 11 of whom have been charged. 

The prosecution is seeking the death penalty for five officials who gave the orders and oversaw the execution of the murder. 

Authorities are hunting for the local collaborator, the prosecutor’s office said. A sketch artist has provided police with a picture of the man. 

As they unveiled their version of events, the Saudi prosecutors insisted that powerful Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, whom Khashoggi had criticised, had no knowledge of the killing.

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