Saudi Crown Prince has `blood on his hands', Erdogan aide says

Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Prince Mohammed bin Salman
FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has “blood on his hands” in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a top aide to Turkey’s president said, in his country’s first direct accusation against the power behind the Saudi throne.

The allegation by Ilnur Cevik came a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced the killing but stopped short of implicating the brash young leader, whose ambitions for a modernised Saudi Arabia have been undermined by his penchant for making enemies at home and abroad.

“It is a futile gesture trying to distance the crown prince from the monstrous atrocity that has been committed by the Saudis,” Cevik said in a column published on Wednesday. “U.S. President Donald Trump may try to stand up for MBS so Washington can use him for its plans against Iran; however, from now on, wherever the crown prince goes, he will be regarded as the man with Khashoggi’s blood on his hands.”

The kingdom has said to widespread skepticism that Khashoggi, a prominent critic of the prince, was killed in an October 2 altercation gone wrong at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, after initially denying he died.

International outrage over the fate of Khashoggi overshadowed a three-day investment conference in Riyadh that began on Tuesday, where a smiling Prince Mohammed posed for photographs and Saudi officials sought to restrict the damage from the killing.

The Saudis have much to explain to the international community and are doing a very poor job, Cevik added.

“Their explanations, alibis and statements are full of contradictions that keep adding to the massive fiasco Riyadh is facing,” he added. “The Khashoggi murder will linger like a curse, haunting Mohammed bin Salman throughout his journey to become the new king of Saudi Arabia.”

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