Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancee seeks punishment for Saudi Prince

Istanbul: The Turkish fiancee ofslain journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Sunday demanded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud be "punished without delay" over the murder.

"It is essential that the Crown Prince, who ordered the brutal murder of a blameless and innocent person, should be punished without delay," the BBC quoted Khashoggi's fiancee Hatice Cengiz in a statement.

"This will not only bring the justice we have been seeking.... but it could also prevent similar acts recurring.

In the statement, Cengiz, a Turkish academic researcher, made an appeal to world leaders to distance themselves from the Crown Prince and impose sanctions on the Kingdom.

"Starting with the (US President Joe) Biden Administration, it is vital for all world leaders to ask themselves if they are prepared to shake hands... I urge everyone to put their hands on their hearts and campaign to punish the Crown Prince."

Cengiz's statement comes three days after a de-classified US intelligence report released on February 26 assessed that the Crown Prince approved an operation to "capture or kill" Saudi Khashoggi in 2018.

"We assess that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi," the report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) said.

Saudi Arabia has rejected the report. Khashoggi, the 59-year-old prominent journalist known to have covered the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the rise of the late Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, was killed by a team of Saudi agents during a visit to the Kingdom's consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, to obtain papers he needed in order to marry Cengiz. In its probe, the Saudi public prosecution concluded the murder was not premeditated, the BBC reported.

It said the killing was ordered by the head of a "negotiations team" sent to Istanbul to bring Khashoggi back to the Kingdom "by means of persuasion" or, if that failed, "by force". The slain journalist's remains remain missing till date.

Last December, the Riyadh Criminal Court sentenced five people to death for "committing and directly participating in the murder of the victim", while three others were handed prison sentences totalling 24 years for "covering up this crime and violating the law".

But, the state media reported last month that the five death sentences were commuted to 20-year jail terms.

The Crown Prince has denied involvement in the murder.

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