Jamal Khashoggi murder: No closure without body, says fiancee

Hatice Cengiz says she is hopeful the killers will be punished and appeals to EU and the US to closely follow the case.

    Cengiz, Jamal Khashoggi's fiancee, at the news conference in Istanbul to present a book on the slain journalist [Murad Sezer/Reuters]
    Cengiz, Jamal Khashoggi's fiancee, at the news conference in Istanbul to present a book on the slain journalist [Murad Sezer/Reuters]

    Jamal Khashoggi's remains have not been found four months after his brutal murder and there is no grave where his loved ones can grieve and pray, the Saudi dissident's fiancee has said.

    "It is important for us that the body is found, that we have a place at which his beloved ones could say prayers," Hatice Cengiz said in Istanbul on Friday during the release of the book, Jamal Khashoggi: His Life, Struggles and Secrets.

    The 228-page book, written by two Turkish journalists, is based on interviews with Cengiz, who described it as "emotional" as it portrays a side of Khashoggi seen by those closest to him.

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    Khashoggi was murdered by a team of Saudi operatives on October 2 last year inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where he had gone to collect documents to marry Cengiz. 

    After making numerous contradictory statements about Khashoggi's fate, Riyadh said he had been killed and his body dismembered when negotiations to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.

    The brutal killing, described by Turkish and US officials as an elaborate plot, has drawn an international outcry about press freedom and the Saudi government's tactics to suppress criticism.

    Cengiz said she is hopeful that his killers will be punished and has appealed to legislators in the European Union and the United States Congress to closely follow the case.

    "I would like to take this opportunity to say that we would welcome in a very nice way in the event he (US President Donald Trump) takes a new stance regarding this subject," she said.

    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) faces allegations of ordering the sensational killing, a charge that Saudi Arabia has consistently denied.

    Khashoggi, a longtime royal insider who wrote for the Washington Post, was one of the best-known critics of the Saudi crown prince.

    Cengiz said she believes that Saudi King Salman "has a conscience" and will support Turkey's efforts to shed light on his killing.

    Turkey, which is carrying out its own investigation into Khashoggi's murder, has been frustrated by what Ankara says is a lack of cooperation by Riyadh.

    'Use a bullet'

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    On Thursday, a New York Times report said MBS had threatened to go after Khashoggi in 2017, and that the conversation was intercepted by US intelligence agencies.

    The report claimed MBS told an aide that he would "use a bullet" against the journalist if he did not return home and end his criticism of the kingdom.

    Cengiz's comments also came a day after an independent United Nations human rights expert said authorities in Saudi Arabia quietly held a second court hearing for the 11 people facing charges over the killing.

    Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said she learned of the hearing during her first visit to Turkey last week to investigate the murder.

    Callamard on Thursday said Saudi Arabia had undermined Turkey's efforts to investigate the death, which she described as a "brutal and premeditated killing".

    "Khashoggi was the victim of a brutal and premeditated killing, planned and perpetrated by officials of the State of Saudi Arabia," Callamard said in a preliminary report on Thursday.

    Describing Callamard as "really sincere", Cengiz added, "Regarding the UN, there hasn't been any serious [investigation] work done on this subject so far but there's more hope for the upcoming period."

    Will there be justice for Jamal Khashoggi?

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    Will there be justice for Jamal Khashoggi?

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies