Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said in a TV interview that he takes “full responsibility” for the grisly murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but he denies allegations that he ordered the killing.
The crown prince has told the US programme 60 Minutes that Mr Khashoggi’s killing was a “heinous crime” and a “mistake” by agents of the Saudi government.
Saudi Arabia has charged 11 people over Mr Khashoggi’s death.
Mr Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Turkey on October 2, 2018, and never emerged. His body has never been found.
A UN report said Saudi Arabia bore responsibility for the killing and that the crown prince’s possible role should be investigated.
“This was a heinous crime,” Prince Mohammed, 34, told the programme.
“But I take full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia, especially since it was committed by individuals working for the Saudi government.”
Asked if he ordered the murder of Mr Khashoggi, who had criticised him in columns for The Washington Post, Prince Mohammed replied: “Absolutely not.”
“Some think that I should know what three million people working for the Saudi government do daily,” the crown prince said.
“‘It’s impossible that the three million would send their daily reports to the leader or the second-highest person in the Saudi government.”
In an interview on Thursday, Mr Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, told The Associated Press that responsibility for Mr Khashoggi’s killing “was not limited to the perpetrators” and said she wanted Prince Mohammed to tell her: “Why was Jamal killed? Where is his body? What was the motive for this murder?”
The Saudi consulate in Istanbul where the journalist was killed had been bugged and Turkish intelligence recorded the planning and the execution.
Human rights lawyer and member of the House of Lords Baroness Helena Kennedy has listened to parts of the recording after being invited to join a team headed by Agnes Callamard, the UN’s special rapporteur for extrajudicial killing, investigating the case.
Baroness Kennedy told BBC’s Panorama programme: “The horror of listening to somebody’s voice, the fear in someone’s voice, and that you’re listening to something live. It makes a shiver go through your body.”
She added: “You can hear them laughing. It’s a chilling business. They’re waiting there knowing that this man is going to come in and he’s going to be murdered and cut up.”