Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has laid out the Saudi planning of Jamal Khashoggi’s “premeditated murder”, demanding that the suspects face justice in Turkey amid reports the journalist’s remains have been found.
After earlier saying he would reveal “the naked truth” about the Washington Post columnist’s death, Mr Erdogan, in his first extended remarks on the case, outlined the chronology of the murder and offered some new details.
The Turkish President dismissed attempts by Riyadh to blame the “savage” killing on rogue operatives, but did not mention Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who some US politicians suspect ordered the killing.
The impassioned speech came shortly before media reports claimed that body parts were discovered in the gardens of the Saudi consul general in Istanbul.
Citing legal and political sources, Sky News reported that Mr Khashoggi’s body was “cut up” and his face “disfigured”.
One source was quoted as saying Mr Khashoggi’s remains were discovered in the garden of the Saudi consul general’s home around 500 metres from the consulate, where he was last seen on October 2.
US President Donald Trump later backtracked on his support of Saidi claims that Mr Khashoggi died accidentally, saying said the Saudi authorities have staged the “worst cover-up ever” over the killing.
Asked by a reporter in the White House Oval Office how death could have happened, Mr Trump said: “They had a very bad original concept. It was carried out poorly, and the cover-up was one of the worst in the history of cover-ups.”
Mr Erdogan’s earlier said the whereabouts of Mr Khashoggi’s body was still unknown and demanded Saudi Arabia reveal the identity of a “local co-operator” who purportedly took the remains.
Mr Khashoggi, a sharp critic of the Crown Prince, disappeared three weeks ago after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage.
Turkish officials suspect Mr Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the consulate by Saudi agents.
Turkish sources have told media outlets that investigators have an audio recording purportedly documenting the killing.
Mr Erdogan made no reference to any audio recording in his speech, but made clear he had no intention of dropping the case, saying Turkey would not complete its investigation into Mr Khashoggi’s death until all questions were answered.
“Intelligence and security institutions have evidence showing the murder was planned…. Pinning such a case on some security and intelligence members will not satisfy us or the international community,” the President said.
“The Saudi administration has taken an important step by admitting to the murder. From now on, we expect them to uncover all those responsible for this matter from top to bottom and make them face the necessary punishments,” he said.
“From the person who gave the order, to the person who carried it out, they must all be brought to account.”
Turkish and Saudi officials later found two suitcases and various other materials in an abandoned Saudi consulate car at the Istanbul Sultangazi district parking lot, according to Turkey’s state news agency Anadolu.
A senior Turkish police officer at the scene told CNN that a senior Saudi diplomat and a representative from the Turkish foreign ministry were also present at this examination.
The developments came as Saudi royals expressed their condolences to Mr Khashoggi’s eldest son and another relative at their palace in Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, Prince Mohammed and the Minister of Defence received Sahl bin Ahmad Khashoggi and Salah bin Jamal Khashoggi at the Al Yamama Palace, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
CNN reported that Salah Khashoggi was the murdered journalist’s eldest son.
The King and the Crown Prince “expressed their sincere condolences to the family of Jamal Khashoggi — may God have mercy on him,” the SPA reported, posting photos of the meeting.
— قناة الإخبارية (@alekhbariyatv) October 23, 2018
A Saudi cabinet meeting chaired by King Salman said Riyadh would hold to account those responsible for the killing and those who failed in their duties, whoever they were.
Mr Erdogan’s speech coincided with the opening in Riyadh of an investment conference which Western political figures, leading international bankers and company executives have boycotted because of the furore around Mr Khashoggi’s death.