LONDON: The heinous murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was the horrific news of last week. Despite admitting to the killing at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and calling it a “tremendous mistake,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Sunday the kingdom did not know where the body of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi was.
Later on Tuesday, he promised that the kingdom was committed to a “comprehensive investigation” of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Saudi Arabia had sent a team to Turkey and all those responsible for the journalist’s death would be detained, the minister told a news conference in Jakarta.
In the meantime, pictures of chopped body and pieces of a person attributed to Khashoggi went viral which are horrendous and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to expose details in this odious murder.
Speaking in an interview on Fox News, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said the Saudi leadership initially believed Khashoggi had left its consulate in Istanbul, where he was last seen on October 2.
But following “reports we were getting from Turkey,” Saudi authorities began an investigation, which discovered he was killed in the diplomatic mission. “We don’t know, in terms of details, how. We don’t know where the body is,” Jubeir said, adding that the Saudi public prosecutor had put out orders to detain 18 individuals, “the first step in a long journey.”
He termed the killing a “tremendous mistake” but one which the US-Saudi relationship would eventually overcome. “The individuals who did this did this outside the scope of their authority. There obviously was a tremendous mistake made, and what compounded the mistake was the attempt to try to cover up,” Jubeir told Fox News.
“That is unacceptable in any government. These things unfortunately happen. We want to make sure that those who are responsible are punished and we want to make sure we have procedures in place to prevent it from happening again.”
Turkey to reveal
The announcement on Sunday by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he will “go into detail” about the Khashoggi case and the details will be revealed in all its nakedness”.
In a speech in parliament he heightened hopes for some clarity in a case that has been shrouded in mystery, conflicting accounts and shocking allegations.
Erdogan spoke after Saudi Arabia, in a statement early Saturday, finally acknowledged that 59-year-old Khashoggi had died in the consulate, though its explanation that he was killed involuntarily in a “fistfight” was met with international skepticism and allegations of a cover-up.
Saudi Arabia said 18 Saudis were arrested and that several top intelligence officials were fired. Pro-government media in Turkey have reported a different narrative, saying a Saudi hit squad of 15 people travelled to Turkey to kill the columnist for The Washington Post before leaving the country hours later in private jets.
“Why did these 15 people come here? Why were 18 people arrested? All of this needs to be explained in all its details,” Erdogan said.
Meanwhile, Istanbul’s chief prosecutor summoned 28 more staff members of the Saudi consulate, including Turkish citizens and foreign nationals, to give testimony on Monday, Turkish state broadcaster TRT reported.
According to a report published in Arab News, Turkey has said it does not want to hurt its relationship with Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi case. Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told reporters in Ankara: “Saudi Arabia is for us an important country, a brotherly and friendly country. We have many partnerships and we would not want these to be damaged.”
Kalin added: “Rather than making it an issue between the two countries, there has been a determination for the incident to be brought to light.”
Pakistan on Sunday welcomed the contacts between Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and their desire to continue working together to address the Jamal Khashoggi issue.
“We welcome the steps taken by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Turkey to address this issue,” the Foreign Office spokesman said in a statement. Disclosing facts to the public and bringing those responsible to justice was important in that regard, the spokesman added.