Washington: SaudiArabia’s investigation and handling of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggistill lacks full credibility and accountability, a senior US official saidFriday. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will continue to press the Saudis onKhashoggi’s murder when he visits Riyadh next week as part of an eight-countrytour of the Middle East, the official said. “He will raise the case ofjournalist Jamal Khashoggi and continue to push for accountability andcredibility from the Saudi leadership as they move through the legal processthat began earlier this week,” the official told journalists on conditionof anonymity. “I don’t think, from our point of view, that the narrativeemerging from the Saudis throughout the legal process has yet hit thatthreshold of credibility and accountability,” the official said.
Ina case that shocked the world and created a sharp rift with Washington,Khashoggi was murdered and his corpse dismembered inside the kingdom’s Istanbulconsulate on October 2. After evidence emerged that the killing was done by ateam of Saudis sent from Riyadh and closely linked to Crown Prince Mohammed binSalman, Washington demanded a transparent investigation.
OnNovember 15, Riyadh prosecutors announced indictments against 11 people, and onTuesday prosecutors said they were seeking the death penalty against five ofthem. But at the same time Prince Mohammed, whose right-hand aides wereallegedly involved in the murder, was exonerated despite US intelligencereportedly having evidence that he was behind it. Despite the indictments so far, it was notclear if anyone in Prince Mohammed’s close orbit would be charged. The case has made it difficult for the Trumpadministration to return the crucial bilateral relationship back to normal.
Abipartisan resolution approved by the US Senate last month also held the crownprince responsible for the killing. “The Saudis should have a crediblenarrative for what happened in the consulate and subsequent events,” theUS official said Friday. “It’s in their interest to pursue this asaggressively as they can to get this albatross off their backs and to get outfrom under the shadow of this incident, which has caused such an outcry.”