Hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, above, accused Saudi Arabia of plotting the murder of The Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi and asked Riyadh to extradite the 18 arrested suspects to be tried in Turkey, a new report says the victim’s body parts have been found.
Sky News cited unidentified sources as saying that Khashoggi’s body parts and disfigured face were found in the garden of the former Saudi consul general Mohammad al-Otaibi’s home near the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.
If the report is true, a Saudi official was lying on Monday when he said Khashoggi’s body was rolled up in a rug and handed over to a local co-operator for disposal.
It also answers a question raised by Erdogan on Tuesday about the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body.
Earlier in the day, the Turkish president confirmed that a 15-member Saudi team took part in Khashoggi ‘s murder at their consulate on Oct 2.
It was no kidnap plan that went horribly wrong as Saudi authorities said. The plot to murder Khashoggi was hatched when he first visited the Saudi consulate on Sept 28 to collect some documents ahead of his marriage with his Turkish fiancée.
Two Saudi teams started work even before the 15-member squad arrived to commit the crime on Oct 2, Erdogan said.
Addressing the ruling Justice and Development Party’s parliamentary group meeting, he said a three-member Saudi team landed in Istanbul one day before Khashoggi’s murder and visited forests in Istanbul and Yalova.
Two other teams arrived at the consulate separately on Oct 2. They removed cameras at the consulate and deleted all footage from hard drives.
Camera footage in the neighbourhood showed Khashoggi did not leave the consulate, Erdogan said.
Saudi Arabia denied the incident on Oct 4. The consul general invited a Reuters reporter to the consulate, opened a few cupboards and claimed nothing happened.
But Erdogan told King Salman that al-Otaibi was negligent and incompetent. Al-Otaibi was recalled to Riyadh on Oct 16 and was relieved of his duties.
Erdogan reminded the world on Tuesday that the murder took place inside the Saudi consulate and on Turkish soil. The Vienna convention does not allow the investigation of such murders to be prevented by diplomatic immunity, he said.
Evidence showed Khashoggi’s killing was the result of a planned operation. He wanted to know why the Saudi team assembled in Istanbul, who gave them the instruction, and why the consulate was not willing to let in Turkish investigators for days after the crime was committed.
Erdogan also questioned Riyadh over the conflicting statements it made. He wanted to know the whereabouts of the body of Khashoggi who was admittedly murdered. The world is waiting for answers from Saudi Arabia, he said.