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Jamal Khashoggi killing: “We need to know whereabouts of his body. This is a basic human right,” says fiancee

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The fiancee of killed Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Hatice Cengiz, in an interview with news channel Al Jazeera, urged for the perpetrators to be identified and put on trial.

Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate’s building in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain documentation certifying he had divorced his ex-wife. He was not seen since.

Saudi Arabia has admitted that the Saudi critic died in a premeditated murder inside its Istanbul consulate – after weeks of consistent denials that it had anything to do with his disappearance.

Turkish media have reported Khashoggi was killed and dismembered based on recordings from the consulate. They say he died at the hands of a 15-member assassination squad from Saudi Arabia.

ALSO READ: Crimes against Journalists: Who was Jamal Khashoggi and what his killing means for press freedom

Cengiz had waited three hours for Khashoggi to come out of the consulate. She had asked the consulate’s staff for his whereabouts. They told her Khashoggi had already left the building via the backdoor.

Cengiz said she will keep fighting to ensure everyone responsible for his murder is brought to justice.

“I want to expose the details of this horrific crime, identify the perpetrators and put those who carried out the killing on a fair trial, including those who ordered the hit so they get the punishment they deserve,” she said.

“On behalf of Jamal’s relatives and loved ones, and I say this as one of them, we need to know the whereabouts of his body. This is a basic human right.”

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“I was convinced he was still alive,” Cengiz said. “I never imagined such a crime could happen in a consulate, and a simple normal person can never imagine what happened in there.”

“Jamal never committed any crimes and never did wrong in any way, and all he did was enter a consulate to get hold of legal papers to get married,” she added.

Saudi authorities are seeking the death penalty for five suspects charged in the case, and have ruled out extraditing Saudi officials, including a top aide to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, against whom Turkey has issued arrest warrants in connection with the killing.

Cengiz had earlier rejected an invitation from US President Donald Trump to visit the White House in October, said, in the interview that she is still living “a shock she cannot overcome” despite the confirmation of the murder.

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“We were on the right track, him and I,” Cengiz said. “He wanted to build a new life. He was exiled and he was in so much pain over it.”

“To be honest, I never imagined the day I’d be in this position – it still hasn’t sunk in,” she said. “The words fail me.”

Meanwhile, according to a CNN report, Khashoggi’s final words were, “I can’t breathe,” which cited a source who has read the transcript of an audio tape of the final moments before the journalist’s murder.

The source told the news network that the transcript made clear the killing was premeditated, and suggests several phone calls were made to give briefings on the progress.

CNN said Turkish officials believe those calls were made to top officials in Riyadh.

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The transcript of the gruesome recording includes descriptions of Khashoggi struggling against his murderers, CNN said, and references sounds of the his body “being dismembered by a saw”.

The original transcript was prepared by Turkish intelligence services, and CNN said its source read a translation version and was briefed on the probe into the journalist’s death.

Last month, the head of investigations at the Turkish Sabah newspaper was quoted by AJ as having said that Khashoggi’s last words were “I’m suffocating … Take this bag off my head, I’m claustrophobic”, according to an audio recording from inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

(With inputs from Al Jazeera, CNN)

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