Friday 20 September 2019

Khashoggi's body dissolved in acid, claims Turkish official

Murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Photo: Johnny Green/PA
Murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Photo: Johnny Green/PA

Borzou Daragahi

Saudi operatives dissolved journalist Jamal Khashoggi's body after murdering and dismembering the 59-year-old, an adviser to the Turkish president said yesterday.

Speaking to the 'Hurriyet' newspaper, Yasin Aktay, who was a friend of the dissident Saudi journalist, said his 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 October 2.

"We knew that Khashoggi's body was dismembered," Mr Aktay said. "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 was 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.

Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Photo: John Stillwell/PA
Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Photo: John Stillwell/PA

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.

Yesterday both the 'Post' and the 'New York Times' cited White House officials as saying 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. People can often be seen carefully collecting body parts for proper burial according to Muslim rituals after deadly 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 fiancée, 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."

Separately, Turkish and US troops began joint patrols in northern Syria on Thursday aimed at averting clashes between Turkey and Washington's Kurdish allies, but Turkey pressed on with a new threatened offensive nearby to crush the Kurds.

The two countries have been working to avert direct confrontation, even as Turkey aims to crush the Kurdish YPG militia.

The YPG forms the main part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that Washington backs with arms, air support and around 2,000 troops on the ground in the fight against Isil. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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