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Khashoggi murder: Saudi Arabia protests arrest of "wrong man" by France

Khashoggi murder: Saudi Arabia protests arrest of wrong man by France

A man arrested by French officials for allegedly partaking in the murder and dismemberment of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 is not the same man who actually committed the crime, the Saudi embassy in Paris said in a statement.

Khalid Alotaibi was picked up at Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport where he was to board a plane to Riyadh. An Interpol Red Notice was triggered when he passed a checkpoint which prompted officials to detain him, and checks are underway to ascertain whether he really is the same Alotaibi who has been designated as part of the Khashoggi assassination team by the US Treasury.

A man named 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.

If confirmed, then Alotaibi will have to appear before French prosecutors with a possibility of being extradited to Turkey to face charges there.

The Saudi statement insists however, that the real Alotaibi is in detention in.Saudi Arabia along with all the other purported defendants in the case. In 2020, five death sentences in the group were overturned by a Saudi Court and the defendants sentenced to 20 years in prison instead.

Media rights body Reporters Without Borders called Tuesday's arrest "excellent news" and said it had filed a legal complaint against Alotaibi for murder, torture and enforced disappearance in October 2019. RSF said it had maintained "complete confidentiality" about the complaint in order to improve the chances of his arrest during a visit to France.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had earlier said that the orders to kill Khashoggi came from the highest echelons of Saudi government but recent close diplomatic overtures between Saudi and turkey have worried those who are looking for justice for the murder.

Khashoggi, a journalist in exile from Saudi Arabia, was killed and dismembered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after he arrived to marry his Turkish fiancee. The body has never been recovered and the killing shook the world, with many fingers pointing at a displeased Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who allegedly ordered the killing.

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TAGS:Jamal KhashoggiControversymurderInvestigationInterpolFrance
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