Saudi crown prince admits 'all responsibility' over Khashoggi murder but denies prior knowledge of execution

Saudi crown prince admits 'all responsibility' over Khashoggi murder but denies prior knowledge of execution
MBS told US television that the murder of Khashoggi "happened under my watch", however he shied away from admitting prior knowledge of the execution despite several reports indicating the contrary.
3 min read
26 September, 2019
MBS is appearing twice on US television to revamp his murderous image [Getty]
Saudi Arabia's crown prince alluded to his own responsibility for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a new documentary, telling US television it "happened under my watch", but denied having any prior knowledge of the killing.

"It happened under my watch," Prince Mohammed bin Salman told a reporter in December 2018, according to quotes released ahead of a new PBS documentary to be aired next week.

"I get all the responsibility, because it happened under my watch," the heir to the Gulf kingdom's throne is quoted as saying, following the October 2 murder.

However he quickly stepped away from admitting full responsibility, saying he couldn't have known about the killing because of the sheer number of government employees in the country.

Read more: Mohammad Bin Salman’s waning influence

"We have 20 million people. We have three million government employees," he said when questioned on why he didn’t know about the murder.

Prince Mohammed, the kingdom's de facto ruler since 2017, has come under huge international pressure after the US-based writer was killed and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Khashoggi's body was never found.

Riyadh has repeatedly denied that Prince Mohammed was behind the murder of Khashoggi - a one-time royal family adviser - who was killed in what Saudi authorities have described as a rogue operation.

However a comprehensive report by a UN human rights expert Agnes Callamard, who conducted an independent probe, said there was "credible evidence" linking the crown prince to the murder and an attempted cover up.

Her report details a meticulously planned operation between the Istanbul consulate and the crown prince’s office to target Khashoggi after finding out he would come to the consulate to pick up a document for his upcoming wedding on October 2 2018.

According to the report, a squad of 15 officials, including a forensic doctor and professor of criminal evidence, many of whom had close ties to bin Salman, were flown out on a diplomatic plane the day before Khashoggi was known to be coming into the consulate.

The CIA has also reportedly said the killing was likely ordered by Prince Mohammed. 

But Saudi prosecutors have absolved the prince and said around two dozen people implicated in the murder are in custody, with death penalties sought against five men.

The documentary is one of two interviews airing in the coming days that mark the first time bin Salman has spoken publicly about the Khashoggi scandal.

Many of the crown prince's opponents view the interviews as part of a charm offensive to win back the favour of the international community.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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