A GROUNDBREAKING new report has revealed what really happened to Jamal Khashoggi’s body.
The slain Saudi journalist’s body was dismembered and separated into five suitcases after he was strangled to death upon entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul last month, according to the Turkish Daily Sabah newspaper.
Unnamed officials told the newspaper his body was cut up by a team of forensic experts, and his remains were then taken out in the suitcases.
According to the report, the body fragments were then taken to the Saudi consul-general’s residence near the consulate.
Maher Mutreb, Salah Tubeigy and Thaar al-Harbi were the three key figures allegedly involved in dismembering the body and removing it from the building.
Mutreb was a direct aide to the Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman, and Tubeigy was the head of the Saudi Scientific Council of Forensics and a colonel in the Saudi kingdom’s army.
Al-Harbi also held a prominent position in the kingdom, having been promoted to lieutenant in the Saudi royal guard last year.
Their roles in the murder could provide Turkish investigators with further evidence that the death was orchestrated from the highest ranks of the Saudi regime.
It follows recent reports that the journalist’s body was dissolved in chemicals after it was mutilated.
Yasin Aktay, a ruling party adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told Associated Press on Friday that “there can be no other formula” to explain why Khashoggi’s remains have not been found a month after he was killed.
He said he suspected the body was cut into pieces so that it could be dissolved in chemicals.
“All the findings point to his body parts being melted,” he said.
If these claims do prove correct, this means the journalist’s body would have had to be dissolve in five different parts from each suitcase. However, Mr Aktay did not provide proof for his claims.
In an opinion piece published for the Washington Post on Friday, President Erdogan called for transparency from Riyadh.
“We are shocked and saddened by the efforts of certain Saudi officials to cover up Khashoggi’s premeditated murder, rather than serve the cause of justice, as our friendship would require,” he wrote.
KHASHOGGI’S GRIEVING SONS SPEAK OUT
Jamal Khashoggi’s two sons have spoken to the western media for the first time since the October 2 incident.
Salah and Abdullah Khashoggi, aged 35 and 33 respectively, described their father as “courageous, generous and very brave” in a sit-down interview with CNN.
“I really hope that whatever happened wasn’t painful for him, or it was quick. Or he had a peaceful death,” said Abdullah.
The boys said their family was unable to grieve or find closure without their father’s body.
“All what we want right now is to bury him in Al-Baqi (cemetery) in Medina (Saudi Arabia) with the rest of his family,” Salah said.
“I talked about that with the Saudi authorities and I just hope that it happens soon.”
Salah made headlines two weeks ago when he was forced to meet and shake hands with Bin Salman during a public conference in Riyadh.
Salah wore a grim gaze as he clasped hands with the Crown Prince, and the photographs capturing the tense moment immediately went viral, with commentators saying how tough it must have been to do so.
Salah suggested his father was less polarising than he has been portrayed in the media since his murder.
“Jamal was a moderate person. He was liked by everybody. He had differences and common values with everyone,” he said.
“I see a lot of people coming out right now and trying to claim his legacy and unfortunately some of them are using that in a political way that we totally don’t agree with.”
“Public opinion is important … but my fear is that it’s being over politicised. People are throwing analysis that may direct us away from the truth.”
Despite their grief, the brothers said they are speaking to the media to take ownership of the part of Khashoggi’s story that belongs to their family.
“It’s difficult, it’s not easy. Especially when the story gets this big. It’s not easy, it’s confusing. Even the way we grieve, it’s a bit confusing,” Abdullah said. “At the same time, we’re looking at the media and the misinformation. There’s a lot of ups and downs. We’re trying to be emotional and at the same time we’re trying to get the story — bits and pieces of the story to complete the whole picture. It’s confusing and difficult. It’s not a normal situation and not a normal death.”
CROWN PRINCE TO BE ‘EXONERATED’
A running question in the Khashoggi case is whether the Crown Prince — who is widely suspected of having orchestrated the murder — will be held to account.
But Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a top international businessman and friend of Jamal Khashoggi, said an official investigation into the death will exonerate the country’s leader.
On the Fox News program Sunday Morning Futures, the prince asked Saudi Arabia to make public as soon as possible the results of the investigation.
Prince Alwaleed told Fox News that an official Saudi investigation would show that the crown prince was not involved in Khashoggi’s killing.
“Please let’s give some time for the investigation to finish,” he said.
“I ask Saudi Arabia now publicly, through your program, to have the investigation made public as soon as possible so whereby I believe the Saudi Crown Prince will be 100 per cent vindicated and exonerated.”
It comes as Prince Salman’s father embarks on a week-long domestic tour from Tuesday as the monarchy faces its worst political crisis in a generation over the murder of Khashoggi.
It is the first such trip for King Salman, 82, since he acceded to the throne of the world’s top oil exporter in 2015, according to local media.
He is expected to launch health, education and infrastructure projects, but few other details were available.
It was not immediately clear if the king’s powerful son would be participating in the tour.
Online news site Sabq reported expected stops in the provinces of Qassim and Hail, both northwest of Riyadh.
Riyadh initially denied any role in Khashoggi’s disappearance, but under pressure from Turkish authorities it eventually identified 18 suspects in the case.
Mr Erdogan has said the order to kill Khashoggi came from the “highest levels” of the Saudi government but that he did not believe King Salman was behind it.
Riyadh has blamed Khashoggi’s death on a “rogue operation”, and said the crown prince had no knowledge of the killing.
King Salman has taken a more hands-on role in Saudi policy after delegating vast powers to Prince Mohammed, who has embarked on sweeping social and economic reforms but has marginalised some senior royals and overseen a crackdown on dissent.