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Saudi crown prince must be 'dealt with' over Khashoggi murder: US Senator

Khashoggi was killed by a Saudi hit squad in the kingdom's Istanbul consulate [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 January, 2019

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A key US senator on Saturday said the Saudi crown prince was responsible for Jamal Khashoggi's murder and must be "dealt with", as he threatened new sanctions.
The Saudi crown prince is responsible for Jamal Khashoggi's murder and must be "dealt with", a key US senator on Saturday said, as he threatened new sanctions.

Republican Lindsey Graham, an influential ally of President Donald Trump, has previously said that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was complicit in the grisly killing of Washington Post contributor Khashoggi in October.

"I have concluded that the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States cannot move forward until MbS has been dealt with," Graham said, using the initials for the crown prince.

Graham also threatened new sanctions against those suspected of involvement in the murder during a press conference in Ankara.

Western countries including the US, France and Canada have placed sanctions on nearly 20 Saudi nationals as the case has tarnished Riyadh's international reputation.

"We will start sanctioning those involved in the killing of Mr Khashoggi. We'll make a definitive statement that MbS knew about it and is responsible for it and come up with a series of sanctions," the South Carolina lawmaker said.

Turkey says Khashoggi was killed by a team of 15 Saudis who strangled him during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain paperwork ahead of his upcoming marriage. 

The remains of the insider turned critic of the kingdom have yet to be found, three months after this murder.

Riyadh has denied any claims of the crown prince's involvement but the case has caused strains with Washington.

Earlier this month, the trial of 11 accused opened in Saudi Arabia with the attorney general seeking the death penalty for five defendants.

Graham acknowledged that he had been "enthusiastic" in his support of Prince Mohammed but accepted he had been "wrong".

"What has transpired in the last couple of years is unnerving to say the least," he said.

Graham said the sanctions were intended to send the message that the murder was "not what you do if you're an ally of the United States".

Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he would ask the Saudi crown prince to ensure the killers of journalist Khashoggi are held accountable for their crime.

The top US diplomat, on an extensive Middle East tour, spoke ahead of a politically sensitive visit to Saudi Arabia, which has faced intense international scrutiny over Khashoggi's murder inside its Istanbul consulate.

"We will continue to have a conversation with the crown prince and the Saudis about ensuring the accountability is full and complete with respect to the unacceptable murder of Jamal Khashoggi," Pompeo told a news conference in Qatar.

"So, we'll continue to talk about that and make sure we have all the facts so that they are held accountable, certainly by the Saudis but by the United States as well."

Evidence subsequently emerged that the killing was done by a team of Saudis sent from Riyadh and closely linked to the crown prince. Washington subsequently demanded a transparent investigation.

But Prince Mohammed, whose right-hand aides were allegedly involved in the murder, was exonerated by Saudi prosecutors despite US intelligence reportedly having evidence he was behind it.

Meanwhile, US President Donald President Trump has said Washington wants to preserve the alliance with the kingdom, although the US Senate has clearly blamed Prince Mohammed for the murder.

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