Jamal Khashoggi’s body cut into pieces and dissolved after his murder in Saudi consulate, Turkey says
Saudi government operatives dissolved journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s body after murdering and dismembering the 59-year-old, an adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s advisor, who is also a friend of the slain Washington Post columnist, said on Friday.
Speaking to the Hurriyet newspaper, Yasin Aktay said the dissident Saudi journalist’s body was first cut up into pieces, to make it easier to dissolve, after he was strangled upon entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.
“We knew that Khashoggi’s body was dismembered,” Mr Aktay told the newspaper. “But now we see that they didn’t just cut it up, they dissolved the body. According to the latest information, the reason why they broke up the body is to make it dissolve more easily. It was meant to leave no trace of the body.”
The Washington Post, citing an unnamed Turkish official, also reported that their columnist’s body had been dissolved using acid or another chemical agent.
The grim revelation, the latest in a series made by Turkish authorities about the murder of Mr Khashoggi, adds further pressure on Saudi authorities accused by Turkey of stonewalling the investigation in an attempt to protect the country’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, from scrutiny over the killing.
On Friday both the Post and the New York Times cited White House officials as saying the Prince Mohammed called officials close to President Donald Trump to smear Mr Khashoggi as a dangerous Islamist. After Saudi authorities admitted Riyadh operatives murdered him, Prince Mohammed lamented his killing as a “heinous crime.”
The human body after death is considered sacred in Islam. Good Samaritans can often be seen carefully collecting body parts for proper burial according to Muslim rituals after deadly car bomb explosions throughout the Middle East. A desecration could prove embarrassing for Saudi Arabia, which contains two of the holiest sites in Islam and bills itself as the leader of the Muslim world.
“The murder of an innocent person is one crime,” said Mr Aktay, who was the first government official contacted by Mr Khashoggi’s fiance, Hatice Cengiz, after he went missing. “The treatment of the body is a separate crime.”
Ms Cengiz made an impassioned plea for answers in a Post column, noting that Istanbul’s top prosecutor had already accused Saudi agents of strangling Mr Khashoggi and dismembering and destroying his body. “How barbaric and ruthless,” she wrote. “What crime did he commit for them to do this? What was the reason for them to murder him so brutally? There is no explanation for this hate.”
She also accused the Trump administration, which covets Saudi arms deals and has forged a close partnership with Prince Mohammed to counter Iran, of trying to sweep the Khashoggi matter under the rug.
“The Trump administration has taken a position that is devoid of moral foundation,” she wrote. “Some have approached this through the cynical prism of self-interest – statements framed by fear and cowardice; by the fear of upsetting deals or economic ties. Some in Washington are hoping this matter will be forgotten with simple delaying tactics. But we will continue to push the Trump administration to help find justice for Jamal. There will be no cover-up.”