London: Greg Norman’s brushing off of Jamal Khashoggi’s killing as a “mistake” has been condemned by the fiancee of the late Washington Post columnist.
The former world No. 1 golfer is leading a series of Saudi Arabia-funded tournaments in England and has come under criticism for his comments about Khashoggi’s gruesome death on October 2, 2018, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
“Look, we’ve all made mistakes and you just want to learn by those mistakes and how you can correct them going forward,” the 67-year-old Norman said Wednesday at an event to promote the tournaments.
The Australian noted “the good that the country is doing in changing its culture.”
Khashoggi, who had written critically about Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, had gone into the consulate to collect documents required for him to marry his Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, and never came out.
Cengiz on Thursday described Norman’s comments as “so hurtful.”
Greg Norman and (inset) Jamal Khashoggi.Credit:Getty/AP
“Would you say that if it was your loved one? How can we go forward when those who ordered the murder are still unpunished, and continue to try to buy back their legitimacy?” Cengiz said in a statement released to news agencies by her London-based attorney. “We should not fall for their wealth and lies, and lose our morals and common humanity. We should all be insisting on the truth and justice; only then can we look forward with hope and dignity.”
Turkish officials said Khashoggi was killed and dismembered with a bone saw inside the consulate by a team of Saudi agents. The group included individuals who worked for the crown prince’s office. His remains have not been found.
Western intelligence agencies and the US Congress said an operation of such magnitude could not have happened without the knowledge of the crown prince.
“I haven’t had a personal conversation with MBS, I’ve never met the guy, but at the same time I do read that the Saudi government has made their statements and comments about it and they want to move forward,” Norman said.
Australian golfer Karrie Webb, who as a young girl idolised Norman, took to Twitter to air her criticism.
“The little girl in me just died well and truly!! Has anyones childhood hero disappointed them as much as I am now??” Webb wrote on Thursday.
Amnesty UK’s Felix Jakens, meanwhile, called Norman “wrong and seriously misguided”.
“Greg Norman’s remarks that the Saudi government’s brutal murder of Khashoggi and its attempted cover-up were a ‘mistake’ are wrong and seriously misguided,” he told the Guardian. “Far from trying to ‘move on’, the Saudi authorities have attempted to sweep their crimes under the carpet, avoiding justice and accountability at every turn.
“The regime’s human rights record is an abomination – from its murder of Khashoggi to recent mass executions and the situation for LGBTI+ people, which continues to be dire.”
Norman is the CEO of LIV Golf Investments, funded primarily by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
The first LIV Golf Invitational is scheduled for June 9-11 at Centurion Golf Club outside London, with a 48-man field competing for a $20 million purse over 54 holes. The winner gets $4 million — to date the richest prize in golf — and last place gets $120,000.
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