Turkish FM calls Saudi statements on Khashoggi murder ‘not satisfactory’

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Jamal Khashoggi / AFP PHOTOS

Following Saudi Arabia’s announcement that 11 people had been indicted that that authorities were seeking the death sentence for five of them in the case of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed at the Saudi Consulate General in İstanbul last month, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said the Saudi statements are not satisfactory and asked the whereabouts of the murdered journalist’s body.

“ I have to say that I did not find some of the [Saudi] statements satisfactory,” said the foreign minister as he reiterated the claim that Khashoggi’s murder was premeditated.

“ Where is the body?” Çavuşoğlu asked, saying there are still many unanswered questions in the case. He called for disclosure of the identity of the person who gave the order for the murder. In addition, the Turkish foreign minister stated that there are contradictory remarks from the Saudi side on the existence of a local collaborator.  He further vowed to follow up on the investigation as the murder took place in Turkey.

A Saudi prosecutor indicted a total of 11 people, five of whom will be subject to capital punishment according to Saudi law. In response, Çavuşoğlu asked why the four other Saudis who came to İstanbul were released.  He also claimed that those 15 Saudis brought the necessary equipment to dismember the body of the journalist.

On Wednesday, Çavuşoğlu had asked for an international investigation into the murder of the Saudi journalist.

“At first, we said we have established a joint working team with Saudi Arabia and are not thinking of taking the [murder] case to an international court. However, at the point we find ourselves today, we see that an international investigation is a must. No matter what happens we will do our best so that all aspects of this murder are brought to light. Trying to cover it up or reaching an agreement [with Saudi Arabia over the murder] is out of the question,” said Çavuşoğlu.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor and critic of the Saudi government, was last seen entering the Saudi Consulate General in Istanbul on Oct. 2 to obtain documents for his forthcoming marriage to a Turkish woman.

Turkish authorities — who say Khashoggi was murdered by a hit squad sent from Riyadh — are still searching for the journalist’s remains. Earlier this month, the chief public prosecutor’s office said Khashoggi’s body was dismembered after he was strangled, while the Washington Post reported investigators were looking into the theory that the body was dissolved in acid. A source close to the Saudi royal palace has denied any knowledge of the body’s whereabouts.

Saudi Arabia has presented an evolving narrative about what happened to Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen, when he entered the consulate to get papers for his wedding. Authorities initially denied all knowledge of his fate before later admitting that a group of rogue operators, many part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s inner circle, were responsible. Riyadh has maintained that neither bin Salman nor his father, King Salman, knew of the operation to target Khashoggi.

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