US says Saudis still lack credible account of journalist Jamal Khashoggi murder

Washington: Saudi
Arabia’s investigation and handling of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi
still lacks full credibility and accountability, a senior US official said
Friday. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will continue to press the Saudis on
Khashoggi’s murder when he visits Riyadh next week as part of an eight-country
tour of the Middle East, the official said. “He will raise the case of
journalist Jamal Khashoggi and continue to push for accountability and
credibility from the Saudi leadership as they move through the legal process
that began earlier this week,” the official told journalists on condition
of anonymity. “I don’t think, from our point of view, that the narrative
emerging from the Saudis throughout the legal process has yet hit that
threshold of credibility and accountability,” the official said.

a case that shocked the world and created a sharp rift with Washington,
Khashoggi was murdered and his corpse dismembered inside the kingdom’s Istanbul
consulate on October 2. After evidence emerged that the killing was done by a
team of Saudis sent from Riyadh and closely linked to Crown Prince Mohammed bin
Salman, Washington demanded a transparent investigation.

November 15, Riyadh prosecutors announced indictments against 11 people, and on
Tuesday prosecutors said they were seeking the death penalty against five of
them. But at the same time Prince Mohammed, whose right-hand aides were
allegedly involved in the murder, was exonerated despite US intelligence
reportedly having evidence that he was behind it.  Despite the indictments so far, it was not
clear if anyone in Prince Mohammed’s close orbit would be charged.  The case has made it difficult for the Trump
administration to return the crucial bilateral relationship back to normal.

bipartisan resolution approved by the US Senate last month also held the crown
prince responsible for the killing. “The Saudis should have a credible
narrative for what happened in the consulate and subsequent events,” the
US official said Friday. “It’s in their interest to pursue this as
aggressively as they can to get this albatross off their backs and to get out
from under the shadow of this incident, which has caused such an outcry.”

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