Mohammed al Otaibi has not been charged over the journalist’s killing in Saudi Arabia despite recordings placing the diplomat at the scene of the slaying.

Saudi Arabia’s consul general in Istanbul at the time of the Khashoggi murder has been barred from entering the US over his role in the killing.

"The murder of Jamal Khashoggi was a heinous, unacceptable crime. Our action today is another important step in responding to Khashoggi’s killing," the US state department said in a statement on December 10.

Leaked recordings and intelligence assessments place Mohammed al Otaibi in the building where a hit squad suffocated and then dismembered the Washington Post columnist.

Jamal Khashoggi had entered the consulate in October 2018 holding the belief that diplomats were working on retrieving paperwork he needed to get married. Instead that turned out to be a ruse and he ended up walking into the hands of his killers.

What prior knowledge Otaibi had of the plot to kill Khashoggi is unclear, but leaks show that the hit squad was planning to meet the victim and a large oven was installed in his residence months prior to the murder. The journalist’s corpse has never been found but investigators have theorised that parts of the body and other critical evidence could have been destroyed in the property.

In the weeks following the disappearance, Otaibi gave tours of the consulate in a failed attempt to convince the international media that no crime had been committed there. The diplomat is believed to have obstructed attempts by officials to establish what happened in the building.

Otaibi was later called back to Saudi Arabia.

The US sanctions would appear to suggest US intelligence agencies believe Otaibi played some role in the killing of Khashoggi. Nevertheless, the diplomat has not been charged by the Saudis, and is reported to be free.

His fate would mirror that of Saud al Qahtani, the alleged mastermind of the murder, who has also been sanctioned by the US but is reportedly free in Saudi Arabia also.

Despite ostensibly being dismissed from his position as an advisor to the Royal Court, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is allegedly continuing to seek his counsel.

The prince is believed to be ultimately responsible for the killing of Khashoggi, which he is said to have ordered as part of a crackdown on Saudi dissidents.

A former royal family insider, Khashoggi fell out with the heir to the Saudi throne and became a vocal critic.

Source: TRT World