ANKARA (Xinhua) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,59, was the victim of a premeditated “brutal murder,” while demanding that the Saudi suspects be tried in Turkey.
“Whitewashing such barbarity will of course injure and wound the conscience of all humanity,” the Turkish leader said in a much-anticipated speech to the lawmakers in Ankara.
Detailing the events that both led up to and followed Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, Mr Erdogan said there were strong signs that “the incident was not a momentary issue or a momentary result of something that happened on site, but the result of a planned operation.”
Mr Erdogan confirmed that a body double of the slain journalist was used as a decoy after what he called a “political assassination.”
He also asked about the whereabouts of the body of Mr Khashoggi, a columnist for the US newspaper, The Washington Post and a strong critic of the Saudi government.
Mr Erdogan said that prior to the journalist’s killing, a number of individuals had visited the nearby city of Yalova and the Belgrad Forest in Istanbul where searches for Mr Khashoggi’s body have been conducted.
He said that the CCTV hard disk had also been removed from the Saudi consulate prior to Mr Khashoggi’s visit on Oct. 2.
The Turkish leader called on the Saudi leadership to allow the 18 suspects detained in this case to be tried in Istanbul.
“Everyone involved in this murder, from juniors to seniors, from bottom to the top must be brought to justice,” Mr Erdogan insisted, adding that “everyone, including the accomplices in foreign territories must be held accountable.”
Mr Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate on Oct. 2. to collect documents for his upcoming marriage to his Turkish fiancee. He has not been seen since.