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Trump: I won’t listen to ‘vicious’ Khashoggi killing tape

Donald Trump has said he has been fully briefed on a "vicious and terrible" audio recording of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but does not want to listen to it himself.

The US president – who said he expects a full report into the death to be released by Tuesday – told Fox News Sunday that he could not bring himself to listen to it after hearing about its contents.

"I don't want to hear the tape, (there is) no reason for me to hear the tape," he said.

"It's a suffering tape. It's a terrible tape. It was very violent, very vicious and terrible."

Image: Jamal Khashoggi was killed on 2 October

Turkey has long maintained that it was in possession of a recording of the death, which it said had been shared with officials from Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, the US and the UK.

But while Mr Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have both insisted they are determined to hold accountable those responsible for the murder, the White House has been reluctant to jeopardise its relationship with Riyadh.

Speaking to reporters before boarding Air Force One for a visit to fire-ravaged California, Mr Trump said Saudi Arabia remained a "truly spectacular ally in terms of jobs and economic development".

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the Future Investment Initiative FII conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh on October 24, 2018. - The summit, nicknamed 'Davos in the desert', has been overshadowed by growing global outrage over the murder of a Saudi journalist inside the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul. (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP) (Photo credit should read GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images)
Image: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was not involved, the kingdom insists

He denied the US had reached a conclusion on who was responsible for the murder of Mr Khashoggi, amid reports that the CIA has concluded Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination.

According to The Washington Post, for which Mr Khashoggi was a columnist, the CIA found that 15 Saudi agents flew on government planes to Istanbul and carried out the killing at the Saudi consulate on 2 October.

Mr Khashoggi had been at the consulate to obtain documents so he could marry his Turkish fiancee.

President Erdogan says there can be no cover-up in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi 1:48
Video: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said there can be 'no cover-up' over the death

The Post also claimed the CIA had information that Prince Mohammed's brother – the Saudi ambassador to the US – told the late journalist by phone it would be safe to go to the consulate and get the papers he needed.

The ambassador, Prince Khalid bin Salman, swiftly denied that he had spoken with Mr Khashoggi on the phone or that he suggested he go to Turkey "for any reason".

"The last contact I had with Mr Khashoggi was via text on Oct 26 2017," he tweeted.

"I never talked to him by phone and certainly never suggested he go to Turkey for any reason. I ask the US government to release any information regarding this claim."

1:08
Video: The crown prince has condemned the murder

It came as Saudi prosecutors sought the death penalty for five suspects charged with the murder of Mr Khashoggi, with public prosecutor Saud al Mojeb revealing that 21 people were in custody and 11 were indicted and facing trial.

His office later said that so far as Saudi Arabia was concerned, the highest-level suspect was former deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al Assiri – and that the crown prince had no knowledge of the killing.

Another line of inquiry for all parties conducting investigations into the death is what happened to the body.

Three weeks after the murder, sources told Sky News the Saudi dissident had been "cut up" and his face "disfigured", with his remains discovered in the garden of the Saudi consul general's Istanbul home.

It contradicted the explanation made by Saudi officials that the body was rolled up in a carpet and handed to a local collaborator tasked with disposing of the evidence.

On Sunday, broadcaster CNN Turk reported that the dismembered body may have been carried out of Turkey in suitcases, citing Turkish defence minister Hulusi Akar.

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Speaking at an international conference in Halifax, Canada, Akar said: "One probability is that they left the country three to four hours after committing the murder.

"They may have taken out Khashoggi's dismembered corpse inside luggage without facing problems due to their diplomatic immunity."

Original Article

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