Saudi prosecutor to visit Istanbul over Khashoggi murder
Istanbul - Saudi Arabia's chief prosecutor will visit Istanbul to speak with Turkish authorities as part of the investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Turkey's president said Friday, adding that Ankara still has more evidence in the case.
The announcement by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan came a day after the Saudi prosecutor said that, based on evidence supplied by Turkey, the murder appeared to have been premeditated -- the first time Saudi authorities have made such an admission.
The killing has tainted the image of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who positioned himself as a Saudi reformer, and tested ties between Washington and Riyadh as Western powers demand answers over Khashoggi's death.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor and critic of Saudi policies, was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain paperwork for his marriage to his Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz.
A tearful Cengiz said in a TV interview on Friday that she never would have let Khashoggi enter the consulate if she had thought that "Saudi Arabia authorities would hatch a plot" to kill him.
"I demand that all those involved in this savagery from the highest to the lowest levels are punished and brought to justice," Cengiz told the Haberturk television station.
She said she had not been contacted by Saudi officials and that she was unlikely to go to Saudi Arabia for a possible funeral if Khashoggi's missing body is found.
In a speech in Ankara, Erdogan said the Saudi prosecutor would arrive on Sunday and called on Riyadh to reveal who ordered the killing and the whereabouts of Khashoggi's body.
"You need to show this body," Erdogan said.
Before his death Khashoggi, 59, had been living in self-imposed exile in the United States since 2017.
- 'The culprit is among them' -
The murder has sparked international backlash against Saudi Arabia, which is seeking to draw a line under the crisis, but a string of gruesome details about the murder have continued to appear in the Turkish media.
The kingdom has arrested 18 Saudi suspects over the case. Erdogan said that they must know who killed Khashoggi and repeated his call for the men to be tried in Turkey.
"The culprit is among them. If that is not the case, then who is the local conspirator? You have to tell," said Erdogan.
"Unless you tell, Saudi Arabia will not be free from this suspicion."
Erdogan, who has so far stopped short of directly blaming the Saudi government, said Turkey had already shared evidence with countries including Saudi Arabia and added that it had even more.
"It is not that we don't have any other information or documents. We do. Tomorrow is another day," he said.
Riyadh's admission that the murder appeared to be a premeditated killing marked the latest twist in the shifting official narrative from Saudi authorities.
They had first insisted Khashoggi left the consulate unharmed, then said he was killed in an argument that degenerated into a brawl.
The explanations have met with growing incredulity from Western governments who say many questions remain.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed on Friday that Berlin would not export arms to Saudi Arabia until the murder is clarified, a stance French President Emmanuel Macron dubbed "pure demagoguery" as it "has nothing to do with Mr. Khashoggi".
Meanwhile, the Kremlin said Russia believes that the Saudi royals were not involved in the murder.
"There's an official statement from the king, there's an official statement from the Crown Prince and no one should have any grounds not to believe them," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
- 'Childish' -
In his speech Erdogan mocked the initial explanation of Khashoggi's disappearance as "childish" and "far from state seriousness".
On Thursday, CIA Director Gina Haspel briefed US President Donald Trump on the latest developments in the investigation after a fact-finding mission to Turkey.
Trump has called the case "one of the worst cover-ups in history".
Pro-government Turkish media said that intelligence officers showed Haspel video images and audio tapes of Khashoggi's killing gathered from the consulate.
Prince Mohammed, the kingdom's de facto ruler, has denounced the "repulsive" murder, denying any involvement. The kingdom's leadership has pushed responsibility down the chain of command.
However UN expert Agnes Callamard said Thursday that Khashoggi was the victim of an "extrajudicial execution" committed by the Saudi state. She called for an international investigation.
Khashoggi's eldest son Salah and his family left Saudi Arabia this week after the government lifted a travel ban, according to Human Rights Watch.
His departure came after he was photographed with Prince Mohammed during a condolence visit, staring coldly as the pair shook hands.AFP