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Saudi suspect of Khashoggi murder arrested in France

December 7, 2021 at 8:14 pm

Commemoration ceremony held in front of the US Congress on the anniversary of the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on 2 October 2021 [Yasin Öztürk/Anadolu Agency]

A Saudi man has been arrested in France on suspicion of his involvement in the murder of the journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, three years ago.

According to reports by French media, the former Saudi Royal Guard, Khalid Aedh Al-Otaibi, was arrested at Charles-de-Gaulle airport today, after being found travelling under his own name.

Al-Otaibi, aged 33, is one of the dozens of men who are suspected to have participated in the assassination of dissident Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, in October 2018.

READ: Justice for Khashoggi has not been achieved 3 years after his murder

The murder was carried out by a hit team made up of Saudi agents – many of whom belonged to the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman’s personal security team – who were reportedly operating under the command of more senior figures in Riyadh.

Following months of investigations and based on audio recordings from inside the consulate, Turkish intelligence alleged that bin Salman, himself, and his intelligence chiefs ordered the abduction or killing of Khashoggi.

MBS and truth about Khashoggi - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

MBS and truth about Khashoggi – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

The Crown Prince and the Saudi government have repeatedly denied those allegations, however, claiming that the hit team was made up of rogue agents acting without orders. Riyadh also ordered its own investigation to be conducted and held its own trial of some of the suspects, in which eight unnamed suspects were charged and imprisoned.

Prior to that trial, which was condemned as a sham by human rights organisations and an “antithesis of justice” by the then-UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard. Saudi prosecutors also ordered the arrest of Al-Otaibi as part of the investigation but then decided not to charge him.

Currently,Al-Otaibi is one of 26 Saudi suspects wanted by Turkish authorities and who are being tried in absentia by a Turkish court. He has also been on Interpol’s red list after Turkey issued an arrest warrant for him.

With the story continuing to develop, it is yet to be determined what step France will take with him. According to reports, he is set to appear before a judge this evening, when he will then have the choice to either be sent to Turkey or to contest the arrest warrant and stay in police custody.

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