The fiancée of brutally-murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has lambasted the lack of action against Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, saying the world leaders should not maintain relations with a “murderer” after a declassified US intelligence implicated the Arab kingdom’s de facto ruler in the killing.
Khashoggi, 59, a former advocate of the Saudi royal court who later became a critic of bin Salman, was killed after being lured into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2, 2018, and his body was dismembered by a Saudi hit squad.
The Saudi government initially claimed Khashoggi left the consulate on that day, but Riyadh later said after an alleged investigation that he had been killed by a “rogue” group and not by direct order from the crown prince, who is also known by his initials as MBS.
Despite official denials by Riyadh, some Western governments as well as the CIA, said they believed MBS ordered the assassination, which caused an international uproar.
On Friday, declassified US intelligence by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence revealed that MBS had approved the brutal assassination.
While Washington imposed sanctions on some of those involved, it spared bin Salman himself, a move that angered and disappointed rights groups.
“That it was said there would be no sanctions against the person who gave the order for the crime to be committed created a strange dilemma in everyone’s minds. But this could change in the coming days,” said Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancée, in an interview with Reuters on Thursday.
Cengiz, who was waiting outside the consulate when he entered to retrieve documents for their upcoming marriage, said the report had been “a very huge and important step” in the path to justice, but must be acted on.
“The process of seeking justice is a long process, sometimes it is not easy,” she further said.
Khashoggi’s fiancée was speaking after the conclusion of a court session in Istanbul of the trial in absentia of 26 Saudi officials over the journalist’s assassination.
Khashoggi’s lawyer Ali Ceylan and Cengiz asked the judge to add the US intelligence report to the case file.
However, the presiding judge rejected the request on the grounds that it would “bring nothing” to the trial, despite the fact that the US report clearly concluded that MBS “approved” the operations since it fit a pattern of him “using violent measures to silence dissidents abroad.”
After the court hearing on Thursday, Cengiz told reporters that the US report “directly attributes responsibility to the crown prince. Therefore, we want this to be taken into account by the court.”
The next hearing has been scheduled for July 8.
Five suspects who received death penalty sentences in an opaque trial in Riyadh last year later had their sentences commuted to 20 years in prison.
“Those in power need to take action. Otherwise they will build their policies in the short to medium term based on a relation with someone who is proved to be a murderer,” Cengiz further said.