Istanbul prosecutor says Khashoggi was suffocated in Saudi consulate

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Saudi public prosecutor Saud Al Mojeb leaves from the Justice Palace in Istanbul, Turkey on October 30, 2018. Reuters

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Istanbul’s chief prosecutor’s office said on Wednesday that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was suffocated in a premeditated killing as soon as he entered Saudi Arabia’s consulate four weeks ago, and his body was then dismembered and disposed of.

In a statement issued after two days of talks with Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb, it also said no concrete results were reached in those meetings.

Later on Wednesday, the spokesman for Turkey’s ruling AK Party, Omer Celik, said Mr Khashoggi’s killing could not have been carried out without orders from senior positions, in one of Ankara’s strongest accusations directed at Riyadh yet.

Mr Celik also said it was not possible that Saudi officials had still not found the journalist’s body after nearly a month of investigations.

Mr Khashoggi’s death has escalated into a crisis for Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, which at first denied any knowledge of or role in his disappearance on October 2.

Mr Mojeb later said Mr Khashoggi’s killing was premeditated and Riyadh said 18 suspects had been arrested. But Turkey, which released a stream of evidence undermining Riyadh’s early denials, has demanded more details including the whereabouts of Mr Khashoggi’s body and who ordered his killing.

“Despite our well-intentioned efforts to reveal the truth, no concrete results have come out of those meetings,” the Istanbul prosecutor’s office said of the talks on Monday and Tuesday between Mr Mojeb and Istanbul chief prosecutor Irfan Fidan.

The killing of Mr Khashoggi, a critic of de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has put into focus the West’s close relationship with Saudi Arabia – a major arms buyer and lynchpin of Washington’s regional plans to contain Iran.

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan, who has demanded more information from Saudi Arabia, said on Tuesday Mr Fidan had asked Mr Mojeb to disclose who sent a 15-strong team from Riyadh which is suspected of involvement in the killing.

The prosecutor’s statement said Mr Fidan also repeated Ankara’s request for the 18 suspects to be extradited to face trial in Turkey, and asked Mr Mojeb to disclose the identity of a “local cooperator” who, according to a Saudi official, disposed of Mr Khashoggi’s body.

In a written response, Mr Mojeb invited Mr Fidan to Saudi Arabia to question the suspects and determine “the fate of the body” and establish whether the killing was premeditated, the Turkish prosecutor’s statement said.

Mr Mojeb left Turkey on Wednesday evening after a three-day visit during which he also held talks at the offices of Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MIT).

Turkey’s relations with Saudi Arabia were strained last year when Ankara sent troops to the Gulf state of Qatar in a show of support after its Gulf neighbours, including Saudi Arabia, imposed an embargo on Doha.

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