French police announced on Monday that they had arrested a suspect in the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi and former member of the Saudi royal guard, Khalid Alotaibi.
Alotaibi was detained as he prepared to board a flight for Riyadh at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. He is alleged to be part of a 16-member team involved in Khashoggi's execution and is the first alleged member to have been arrested. French officials have noted that Alotaibi was travelling under his own name but could not explain how he managed to enter France undetected.
Turkish officials have reported that Khashoggi, a fierce critic of the Saudi regime, was suffocated and dismembered by a saw in Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul before his body was burnt in an oven. The Times notes that a trial of the suspected murderers is being held in their absence in Turkey with defendants being accused of "premeditated murder with the intent of [causing] torment through fiendish instincts”.
Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancée, welcomed the arrest telling reporters:
“France should try him for his crime or extradite him to a country able and willing to genuinely investigate and prosecute him as well as the person who gave the order to murder Jamal.”
Saudi officials allege that this is a case of mistaken identity and assert that they had already convicted the murders of Khashoggi. Saudi Arabia has arrested 8 men and sentenced them for 7-20 years in jail for their alleged involvement in the execution of Khashoggi. Authorities named further individuals however they have not been charged, this includes Alotaibi.
Agnès Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, decried the trial as a “parody of justice” which was “neither fair nor just, nor transparent”.
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