Saudi Arabia deployed a chemist and toxicology expert to Istanbul after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in an attempt to cover up evidence of the killing, a Turkish newspaper reported on Monday.
The murder of the Saudi royal-insider-turned critic inside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul has provoked widespread international outrage.
Turkish authorities have released gruesome details of a killing that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said was a targeted hit.
While Riyadh officials have admitted the murder was planned, they have so far declined to release details of the whereabouts of the 59-year-old journalist’s missing body.
According to Turkey’s pro-government Sabah daily, Saudi Arabia sent an 11-member “cover-up team” to Istanbul on October 11, nine days after the Washington Post contributor vanished after entering the diplomatic compound to obtain paperwork for his marriage.
The paper said chemist Ahmad Abdulaziz Aljanobi and toxicology expert Khaled Yahya Al Zahrani were among “the so-called investigative team”, which visited the consulate every day until October 17, before leaving Turkey on October 20.
Saudi Arabia finally allowed Turkish police to search the consulate for the first time on October 15.
Turkey’s chief prosecutor said last week that Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the consulate and also confirmed the body was dismembered.
Yasin Aktay, an advisor to Erdogan, hinted in an article published on Friday that the body may even have been destroyed in acid.
In an editorial published in The Washington Post, Erdogan accused authorities in Riyadh of refusing to answer key questions about the murder, despite their arrest of 18 suspects a fortnight ago.
He said the order to murder the journalist came from “the highest levels” of the Saudi government, adding that he did “not believe for a second” that King Salman was to blame.
But he pointedly failed to absolve Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of responsibility for unleashing a “death squad” against the outspoken Saudi journalist.
The murder has badly tainted the kingdom’s de facto ruler.
Saudi Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb met with Turkish authorities last week in Istanbul but refused to share information from Riyadh’s own investigation, according to Turkish officials.