(AFP) — The Turkish fiancee of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Hatice Cengiz, on Tuesday welcomed the arrest in France of a man suspected of involvement in the 2018 killing which sparked international outrage.
French investigators were seeking to confirm that the man arrested at a Paris airport carrying a passport in the name of Khalid Alotaibi is indeed the man by the same name wanted by Turkey over the killing, sources close to the case said.
Khashoggi, a Saudi regime insider-turned-critic who wrote for The Washington Post, was killed and dismembered after going to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in order to obtain documentation for his wedding to Cengiz, who was waiting outside.
"The arrest of one of the killers is a very significant first step for justice for Jamal. I have been waiting for too long, now the first person has finally been arrested," Cengiz told AFP.
"Justice must be allowed to take its proper course. There should be no undue interferences which allow him to be released, as it is vital that he is put on trial for his criminal acts."
Khalid Alotaibi is one of 26 Saudis charged in absentia by Turkey over the killing in a trial that got underway in October 2020. If convicted, he could face life imprisonment.
Two of the 26 being tried in absentia in Turkey are former aides to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. No Saudi official has ever faced justice in person in Turkey for the killing.
Alotaibi is also one of 17 people that the U.S. Treasury designated for sanctions in 2018 over their role in the murder.
If confirmed as the suspected assassination team member, he will then appear before French prosecutors.
"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," Cengiz said in a separate comment on her Twitter account.
Khashoggi's death and the subsequent disappearance of his body gravely tarnished Prince Mohammed bin Salman's image and plunged Riyadh into a diplomatic crisis.
The kingdom says the 59-year-old was killed in an unauthorized operation.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the order to kill Khashoggi "came from the highest levels of the Saudi government".
"Most importantly, those who executed the plan must not be used to shield those much higher up who gave the order for Jamal's brutal killing, including the Crown Prince himself," Cengiz told AFP.
"They must also be arrested and prosecuted."
© Agence France-Presse
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