RIYADH (Reuters) – Moments before Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed and dismembered last October, two of his suspected murderers laying in wait at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate fretted about the task at hand, according to a U.N. report published on Wednesday.
Will it “be possible to put the trunk in a bag?” asked Maher Mutreb, a Saudi intelligence officer who worked for a senior advisor to Saudi crown prince, according to a report from the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions.
“No. Too heavy,” responded Salah al-Tubaigy, a forensics doctor from the Interior Ministry who would dismember and dispose of the body. He expressed hope his task would “be easy”.
Tubaiqy continued: “Joints will be separated. It is not a problem. The body is heavy. First time I cut on the ground. If we take plastic bags and cut it into pieces, it will be finished. We will wrap each of them.”
Mutreb and 10 others are now standing trial in closed hearings in Saudi Arabia for their role in the crime.
Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, rejected the investigator’s report as “nothing new”.
He added in a tweet: “The report of the rapporteur in the human rights council contains clear contradictions and baseless allegations which challenge its credibility.”
The report, which calls for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other senior Saudi officials to be investigated over their liability for Khashoggi’s death, relies on recordings and forensic work conducted by Turkish investigators and information from the trials of the suspects in Saudi Arabia.
Khashoggi, a critic of the prince and a Washington Post columnist, was last seen at the consulate where he was to receive papers ahead of his wedding.
The report concludes that his murder was deliberate and premeditated. The CIA and some Western countries believe the crown prince ordered the killing, which Saudi officials deny.
Media reports have published the contents of some recordings obtained from inside the consulate, but the U.N. report discloses chilling new details.
At the end of the exchange with Tobaigy, Mutreb asks if “the sacrificial lamb” has arrived. At no point is Khashoggi’s name mentioned, but two minutes later he enters the building.
Khashoggi is ushered to the consul general’s office on the second floor where he meets Mutreb, whom he knew from when they worked together at the Saudi Embassy in London years earlier.
Mutreb tells Khashoggi to send his son a mobile text message.
“What should I say? See you soon? I can’t say kidnapping,” Khashoggi responds.
“Cut it short,” comes the reply. “Take off your jacket.”
“How could this happen in an embassy?” Khashoggi says. “I will not write anything.”
“Type it, Mr. Jamal. Hurry up. Help us so that we can help you because at the end we will take you back to Saudi Arabia and if you don’t help us you know what will happen at the end; let this issue find a good end,” Mutreb says.
The report says the rest of the recordings contain sounds of movement, heavy panting and plastic sheets being wrapped, which Turkish intelligence concluded came after Khashoggi’s death as Saudi officials dismembered his body.
(Reporting By Stephen Kalin, Editing by William Maclean)