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ANKARA: Turkey’s top prosecutor on Wednesday laid out the most detailed description yet of how the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed, saying Saudi agents strangled him to death almost immediately after he after entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and then dismembered him.
A statement from the office of prosecutor Irfan Fidan said meetings with his Saudi Arabian counterpart, who visited Istanbul this week, had produced “no concrete results” on the killing, which it said was premeditated.
The new information did not address the question that has bedeviled investigators and been the subject of furious speculation: What happened to Khashoggi’s remains?
A senior Turkish official said in an interview that Turkish authorities are pursuing a theory that Khashoggi’s dismembered body had been destroyed in acid on the grounds of the Saudi Consulate or at the nearby residence of the Saudi consul general. Biological evidence discovered in the consulate garden supports the theory that Khashoggi’s body was disposed of near to where he was killed and dismembered, the official said.
Khashoggi, a 59-year-old Washington Post contributor, was murdered after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain paperwork ahead of his upcoming wedding. His body has not been found.
The statement comes hours after Saudi Arabia’s chief public prosecutor ended his visit to Istanbul, during which he met Fidan twice and visited the kingdom’s consulate and the regional offices of the Turkish intelligence agency.
“Khashoggi’s body was not in need of burying,” said the official, who requested anonymity to discuss a sensitive investigation.
While Saudi officials now acknowledge that Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate on Oct. 2, all they have said about his body is that the assailants gave it to a “local collaborator” for disposal.
Saudi Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb reportedly refused to share information from Riyadh’s own investigation.
“In accordance with plans made in advance, the victim, Jamal Khashoggi, was strangled to death immediately after entering the consulate on October 2,” the Istanbul prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
“The victim’s body was dismembered and destroyed following his death by suffocation -– again, in line with advance plans,” it added.
Turkish authorities said they were not satisfied after the talks with the Saudi prosecutor.
“Despite our well-intentioned efforts to reveal the truth, no concrete results have come out of those meetings,” the Istanbul prosecutor’s office said.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Wednesday that his government would take “necessary measures” against those responsible for the journalist’s death.
“So long as those who are responsible and the circumstances around the killing are not made public, released and evaluated, we will go on demanding the truth,” he affirmed.
However, relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia, long-time allies, have cooled.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday said the murder “violates the norms of international law. That much is very, very clear”.
And on Tuesday, Washington called for a ceasefire and peace talks in Yemen, where the US has faced fierce international criticism for supporting a Saudi-led coalition.
Pentagon chief Jim Mattis said the US had been watching the conflict, in which nearly 10,000 people have been killed, “for long enough”.