Saudi official says Khashoggi's body given to 'local cooperator' inside rug
Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's body was given to a "local cooperator" after he was killed in his country's consulate in Istanbul, a report said.
According to a senior Saudi official who spoke to Reuters on Oct. 21, the Saudi team rolled up Khashoggi’s body in a rug, took it out in a consular vehicle and handed it to a “local cooperator” for disposal.
Saudi Arabia on Oct. 21 called the killing a “huge and grave mistake,” but sought to shield its powerful crown prince from the widening crisis, saying Mohammed bin Salman had not been aware.
The comments from Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir were some of the most direct yet from Riyadh, which has given multiple and conflicting accounts about Khashoggi’s killing on Oct. 2, first denying his death and later admitting it amid an international outcry.
“This was an operation that was a rogue operation. This was an operation where individuals ended up exceeding the authorities and responsibilities they had,” Jubeir said on the U.S. broadcaster Fox.
“They made the mistake when they killed Jamal Khashoggi in the consulate and they tried to cover up for it,” he said.
Hürriyet columnist Abdulkadir Selvi wrote on Oct. 22 that the "hit squad" in the Saudi consulate "strangulated Khashoggi in 7-8 minutes."
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Turkish news website Habertürk reported Oct. 21 that the body was given to a local, who is originally from Turkey's southeastern province of Mardin, in Istanbul's Sultanahmet neighborhood.
According to the report, the suspect, currently sought by the Turkish police, tried to "destroy" the body instead of quickly burying it somewhere.
Mesut Demirbilek, a forensics expert, told Hürriyet on Oct. 22 that murderers in such cases usually prefer to bury the body in wooded areas or throw it into the sea.
"If the body was thrown into the sea after it was dismembered, then finding it will be harder," Demirbilek said.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called Khashoggi’s son, Salah, according to statements published early Oct. 22.
A separate report by Turkish newspaper Yeni Şafak said Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a member of Prince Mohammed’s entourage on trips to the United States, France and Spain this year, made the calls from the consulate.
The newspaper added that the four calls went to Bader al-Asaker, the head of Prince Mohammed’s office. It said another call went to the United States.
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