Aussie link to Saudi ‘murder’
A SAUDI doctor accused of the grisly assassination of a prominent international journalist in Turkey studied forensic medicine in Australia, it has emerged.
Turkish authorities say Dr Salah al-Tubaigy was among 15 men present at the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul, when Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi is believed to have met a brutal end on October 2.
The Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine confirmed that Dr al-Tubaigy spent three months training as a forensic pathologist at the Melbourne facility in 2015.
Institute director Professor Noel Woodford told the ABC he did not meet the Saudi surgeon during his Australian placement but understood he voiced a particular interest in the field of mass disaster victim identification.
However his predecessor, Stephen Cordner, was one of the Saudi surgeon's Australian mentors and recalled the experience in a radio interview on Wednesday.
"I remember Dr Tubaigy," he told ABC radio.
"He became really the senior forensic doctor in Saudi Arabia, he was head of the Saudi forensic medicine commission."
According to Prof Cordner, one of Dr al-Tubaigy's responsibilities was dealing with disasters, particularly deaths of pilgrims during the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca.
"He did get familiar with the use of our CT scans in a post mortem context," Prof Cordner said.
"He didn't do any autopsies. He observed autopsies, attended academic meetings, so really just attended things that happened in the building."
Prof Cordner said the institute took a "generous view" of people who had indicated they wanted to spend time there observing.
"We approach them as though they're honest people dealing with us wanting to improve the lives of the people in the country they come from," he said.
Mr Khashoggi, an outspoken critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, vanished after entering the consulate to obtain documents relating to his upcoming wedding to fiancee Hatice Cengiz.
It is believed he was tortured, murdered and dismembered in the presence of up to 15 Saudi officials, including Dr al-Tubaigy and Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, who is a bodyguard for the Crown Prince.
Turkish authorities suspect Mr Khashoggi's killers may have disposed of his body by dissolving it in acid.
The Saudi Government has denied any wrongdoing but has hinted the journalist's murder may have been the outcome of a botched interrogation by "rogue" employees.
Turkish newspaper The Sabah reported overnight that Mr Khashoggi's excruciating final moments may have been recorded on his Apple watch.
The paper claimed the device captured incriminating conversations between Saudi officials as they brutalised their victim and that Mr Khashoggi can be heard screaming as his fingers are hacked off before he was "injected with an unknown drug".
It said Saudi Consul General Mohammed al-Otaibi is heard on the tape telling those allegedly torturing the journalist: "Do this outside; you're going to get me in trouble."
His comment was reportedly met with the reply: "Shut up if you want to live when you return to (Saudi) Arabia".
Mr al-Otaibi, who fled Turkey after the alleged killing, has been relieved of his post and will face an investigation, an official government statement said.
Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud has said claims "about orders to kill [Mr Khashoggi] are lies and baseless allegations against the government of the kingdom".