Khashoggi murder suspect studied forensic medicine in Australia


A doctor suspected of killing and dismembering dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi trained at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine in Melbourne after being sponsored by the Saudi Government.

Key points:

  • Authorities suspect Khashoggi was murdered in Istanbul on October 2 by a team who travelled from Saudi Arabia
  • Tubaigy was reportedly carrying a bone saw when he flew in and out of Istanbul
  • ABC confirmed Tubaigy spent several months at Melbourne institute as forensic pathologist

Dr Salah al-Tubaigy was identified by Turkish authorities as one of 15 men present in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, when Khashoggi is suspected to have been assassinated.

Turkish authorities suspect Khashoggi was murdered inside the consulate after being ambushed by a team travelling from Saudi Arabia.

Dr Tubaigy was carrying a bone saw when he flew in and out of Istanbul, authorities said.

The ABC has confirmed Dr Tubaigy spent three months at the institute as a forensic pathologist from June 2015.

Tubaigy now has senior role in Saudi Government

Dr Tubaigy was the head of Saudi Arabia's forensic medicine corporation at the time of his visit to Australia, according to the institute's 2015 annual report. He now holds a senior position in the Saudi interior ministry.

His ties to the Government are expected to be of particular interest to Turkish authorities investigating the extent of the suspected plot to kill the journalist.

And his suspected involvement could undermine an alternative explanation for Khashoggi's death: that he was accidentally killed during an interrogation gone wrong.

Professor Noel Woodford, the director of the institute, said Dr Tubaigy did not perform autopsies or any forensic procedure, and the entire costs of his international placement were paid by the Saudi Government. The institute did not profit from the placement.

Suspect 'interested in victim identification, autopsies'

Dr Tubaigy told the institute he was particularly interested in mass disaster victim identification as he was responsible for the supervision of the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Professor Woodford said.

Dr Tubaigy also had an interest in autopsies, according to reviews of his published works.

Professor Woodford did not know Dr Tubaigy personally, and the institute's director of international programs, Dr Liz Manning, declined to comment.

Other international doctors who trained at the institute at the same time as Dr Tubaigy could not be reached for comment.

They included another Saudi, Dr Mohammed Madadin, who trained for 12 months at the institute, and was also sponsored by the Saudi Government. He had work published in an Egyptian medical journal with Dr Tubaigy in 2011.

He has not been linked in any way to the disappearance of Khashoggi.

The case has drawn international condemnation, and led to questions about the rule of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and whether he sanctioned the assassination.

Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, was an outspoken critic of the prince.

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