Saudi excuses for journalist’s death childish, says Erdogan


Saudi excuses for journalist’s death childish, says Erdogan

President ridicules explanations over death of journalist Khashoggi

Ramping up pressure: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament. Photo: Reuters
Ramping up pressure: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament. Photo: Reuters

TURKISH President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday ridiculed Saudi Arabia’s “childish” explanations for Jamal Khashoggi’s death as he demanded to know where the journalist’s body was hidden and who gave the order to kill him.

Mr Khashoggi’s fiancée also gave her first interview since the ‘Washington Post’ columnist’s death was confirmed, saying he had been concerned about visiting the Saudi consulate but did not think there was any danger of being kidnapped.

In his second speech on the subject this week, Mr Erdogan continued to put pressure on the kingdom over its constantly changing story of how the ‘Washington Post’ columnist died on October 2.

Saudi Arabia initially said that Mr Khashoggi walked out of the consulate safely, then said that he was killed accidentally in a fist fight, before announcing on Thursday that Saudi operatives had a “premeditated” plan to kill him.

“These childish explanations are not compatible with the seriousness of a state,” Mr Erdogan said.

Mr Erdogan expressed disbelief that Saudi authorities had not been able to find out where Mr Khashoggi’s body was.

“You know how to make people talk,” he said.

“If you cannot make them talk then hand them over to us.”

He repeated his demand that the 18 Saudi men arrested for Mr Khashoggi’s death be extradited to Turkey to face trial.

Saudi Arabia has said they will be tried in Saudi courts.

“Who gave this order?” Mr Erdogan asked. “Who gave the order for 15 people to come to Turkey?”

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Mr Erdogan also said the Saudi chief prosecutor will come to Turkey tomorrow to meet with Turkish officials about the investigation.

He indicated that Turkey has more evidence about the killing that it could release at a later date.

The Turkish president’s tone indicates he does not intend to allow the matter of Mr Khashoggi’s death to quietly fade away, nor does he plan to help Saudi Arabia move away from the glaring international spotlight that the case has focused on the kingdom.

Hatice Cengiz, Mr Khashoggi’s fiancée, told Haberturk television that Mr Khashoggi was concerned that his application for a divorce certificate might be rejected or that there might be “tension” with Saudi staff in the consulate.

But she said he felt Turkey was “a powerful country” and that Saudi Arabia would not dare to do anything against him on Turkish soil.

“We thought we would set the date of the wedding after dinner,” she said. “This was part of the dream.”

Meanwhile, Austria proposed that all EU nations stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia in response to Mr Khashoggi’s death, which has put Saudi Arabia under an intense international spotlight

Germany has already announced a halt in arms sales.

The German economy minister, Peter Altmaier, expressed support for the Austrian proposal.

Britain and France both sell large quantities of weapons to Saudi Arabia and are likely to be wary of any proposal that could damage their defence industries.

Donald Trump, the US president, has also expressed his unwillingness to cancel arms deals worth billions of dollars to the American economy.

While Western countries have expressed scepticism of the Saudi explanations, Russia has kept up a steady drumbeat of support for Riyadh.

“There is an official statement by the king, a statement by the crown prince.

“Essentially, nobody should have any reason not to believe it,” Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said yesterday.

Irish Independent

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