After Saudi Arabia’s claim on Friday that Washington Post columnist and frequent critic of the Saudi regime Jamal Khashoggi was killed in a “fist fight” inside the country’s Istanbul consulate on October 2, Turkish officials vowed that their investigation would reveal the truth about Khashoggi’s death at the hands of a 15-member Saudi death squad.
But according to a report Sunday by the London-based Middle East Eye, Turkish officials now fear that the 15 Saudi agents who they believe tortured, murdered, and dismembered Khashoggi may never be extradited back to Turkey to face trial — because the Saudis may quickly arrest and execute them.
One of the suspects, Saudi Royal Air Force Lieutenant Mashal Saad al-Bostani, is already dead, killed in a “suspicious car accident,” according to a report in the Turkish newspaper Daily Hürriyet. A Hürriyet columnist also wrote that the Saudi consul general in Istanbul, Mohammad al-Otaibi, could be the next to die as Saudi ruler Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman “would do anything to get rid of evidence.”
The voice of al-Otaibi can be heard on an audio recording of Khashoggi’s murder, and the suspects dined at his residence after killing the journalist, as Inquisitr reported.
Despite admitting that Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate — after claiming for more than two weeks that he departed the Istanbul consulate alive — the Saudi Arabian statement outing the “fist fight” scenario made no mention of the fate of Khashoggi’s body. The international human rights organization Amnesty International on Saturday called for the Saudis to immediately produce the journalist’s remains for forensic testing, according to CBS News.
Turkey is in the process of collecting Khashoggi’s DNA material from inside Turkey, Middle East Eye reported, and would not require Saudi Arabian cooperation to obtain DNA samples. Investigators believe that the Saudi assassins dismembered Khashoggi’s body, likely beginning while he was still alive, and distributed the various pieces at two locations — a forest north of Istanbul, and a farmhouse or villa in a rural area south of the city, the Inquisitr reported.
Saudi Arabia on Friday announced that 18 top officials have been arrested, and five fired from their positions in the government, in connection with the Khashoggi case, the Washington Post reported.
“The two most prominent Saudis to be implicated by the Saudi investigation into Khashoggi’s death are deputy intelligence chief General Ahmed al-Assiri and the crown prince’s top aide, Saoud al-Qahtani, both of whom have been sacked,” Middle East Eye reported. “Their departures appear to be an attempt to absolve Mohammed bin Salman, commonly known as MBS, of blame.”