Saudi crown prince deplores ‘repulsive’ Khashoggi murder
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia’s crown prince denounced Wednesday the “repulsive” murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and vowed justice will prevail, in his first public comments on the case, without addressing US accusations of a monumental cover-up.
After phoning Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the October 2 killing in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, which triggered a diplomatic crisis, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pledged there would be “no rupture” in ties with Ankara.
“The incident was very painful for all Saudis, it’s a repulsive incident and no one can justify it,” Prince Mohammed said during an address to the Future Investment Initiative forum in Riyadh.
“Those responsible will be held accountable… in the end justice will prevail,” the heir apparent to the Saudi throne said in Arabic.
The prince, faced with mounting international censure, appeared relaxed and occasionally joked as he shared the stage with Lebanon’s prime minister-designate Saad Hariri and Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad.
Three weeks since Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen living in self-imposed exile, disappeared after walking into the consulate to obtain marriage documents, the crisis shows no sign of abating.
Washington, a long-time ally of Riyadh, moved late Tuesday to revoke the visas of several Saudis. Britain followed suit on Wednesday as France said it was ready to back international sanctions against those responsible.
Saudi leaders have denied involvement in Khashoggi’s murder, pushing responsibility down the chain of command.
But Ankara has been holding its own investigation and Erdogan said the killing was meticulously planned, calling for 18 Saudis detained by Saudi authorities to be tried in Turkey.
Erdogan spoke with Prince Mohammed in their first telephone conversation since the killing, a Turkish presidential source and Saudi state media said.
The two discussed “the issue of joint efforts and the steps that need to be taken in order to shed light on the Jamal Khashoggi murder in all its aspects,” the source added.
Speaking at the investment forum, Prince Mohammed said: “Many are trying to exploit the Khashoggi affair to drive a wedge between Saudi Arabia and Turkey”.
But, he said, “they will not succeed as long as there is a king named Salman and a crown prince named Mohammed bin Salman.”
Since becoming heir apparent last year, Prince Mohammed has won plaudits for reforms, including ending a decades-long ban on women drivers.
But his image has been tarnished by Khashoggi’s murder, despite repeated denials that he was involved.
Riyadh’s changing narrative has met with deep skepticism abroad.
“He showed a keenness to tell the world that he believes in due process and justice,” a British business delegate at the conference told AFP.
“The question is whether justice will really be done.” /cbb
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.