Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on Saudi Arabia to disclose the location of the remains of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as it’s been claimed his body was cut up and thrown down a well at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
Turkish media claims that Khashoggi’s body had been ‘cut into three parts’ by the Saudi forensic expert who was photographed arriving in Istanbul the day of the murder as part of a 15-strong ‘hit squad’.
Saudi prosecutors admitted yesterday that Turkish evidence indicates that the killing was premeditated, despite the Saudi state previously claiming that Khashoggi had died in a botched interrogation.
The dissident Saudi writer, 59, disappeared on October 2, after entering his home country’s consulate in Istanbul to obtain papers to allow him to marry his Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz.
Ms Cengiz demanded punishment for on Friday for all those involved in the ‘savagery’ of Khashoggi’s murder.
‘I demand that all those involved in this savagery from the highest to the lowest levels are punished and brought to justice,’ she told the Haber Turk television station.
‘Who gave this order?’ Erdogan said in a speech to members of his AK Party in Ankara on Friday.
‘Who gave the order for 15 people to come to Turkey?’ he said, referring to the alleged ‘hit squad’, adding that Turkey has other ‘information and evidence’ about the killing, which it will eventually reveal.
President Erdogan also revealed that Saudi Arabia’s chief prosecutor will arrive in Turkey on Sunday as part of the investigation into the murder of the 59-year-old, where he will meet Turkish prosecutors.
Pro-government news website Yeni Sefak claims to have learned more gruesome details of the murder, including that his body was cut into three pieces and thrown down a well at the consulate, where staff has today been seen loading items into black vehicles.
Several pieces of luggage and black bags were seen being removed from the Saudi consulate and placed in a large black van with tinted windows.
The news website claimed the Saudi ‘hit squad’ had been forced to divert from their original plan of disposing of the body after Khashoggi’s worried fiancee Hatice Cengiz went to the consulate to ask for him.
They claim forensic specialist and ‘autopsy pioneer’ Colonel Salah Muhammed al-Tubaigy ‘divided the head, body and legs into three pieces’ and put them in suitcases and bags.
Tubaigy then ‘cleaned out the meeting room’ at the consulate where the dismembering had taken place, but had reportedly not done a thorough enough job and remains were later found in the room by investigators, the website said.
Yeni Sefak reported that while Turkish police had been granted permission to test the water in the well, they are still being prevented from conducting a full search of the well on consulate grounds.
While Saudi Arabia has admitted that the killing was pre-meditated, it has yet to reveal who is responsible for the murder.
Khashoggi was a Washington Post contributing columnist who had criticized policies of the powerful Crown Prince, and had as a result been self-exiled in the U.S. for about a year.
The Crown Prince himself has denounced what he called the ‘repulsive murder’ in his first public comments on the case, but many – including U.S. President Donald Trump – has suggested he may be behind Khashoggi’s death.
Asked about the prince’s possible involvement in the killing, US President Donald Trump told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday: ‘Well, the prince is running things over there… so if anybody were going to be, it would be him.’
Russia on the other hand has backed the Saudi Royals, after President Vladimir Putin discussed the matter with King Salman, the Kremlin said today.
‘There’s an official statement from the king, there’s an official statement from the Crown Prince (Mohammed bin Salman) and no one should have any grounds not to believe them,’ Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Putin spoke to the 82-year-old Saudi king by telephone on Thursday evening and they discussed ‘the situation around the case of Khashoggi,’ the Kremlin said in a statement.