Turkey President Erdogan says Khashoggi murder 'planned days in advance" - Whisper Eye

Turkey President Erdogan says Khashoggi murder ‘planned days in advance”

The killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was planned days in advance, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told MPs from his ruling party.

He said Turkey had strong evidence Khashoggi was killed in a premeditated and “savage” murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.

He also called for the suspects to be tried in Istanbul.

He demanded Saudi Arabia provide answers about where Khashoggi’s body was, and who ordered the operation.

The Saudi kingdom has provided conflicting accounts of what happened to the Washington Post contributor.

After weeks of maintaining he was still alive, the authorities now say he was killed in a rogue operation.

Tuesday’s address by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan coincided with the start of an investment conference in Saudi Arabia that has been overshadowed by the Khashoggi case, with dozens of government and business leaders pulling out.

Many world leaders have condemned the murder of the prominent Saudi critic and demanded a full investigation.

President Erdogan said three teams of 15 Saudi nationals had arrived in Istanbul on separate flights in the days and hours leading up to the murder.

A day before the killing, he said, some members from the group travelled to Belgrad forest, near the consulate – an area which was last week searched by Turkish police looking for the body.

He also described how the team had removed the security cameras and surveillance footage from the consulate building prior to Khashoggi’s arrival – who was visiting to obtain documents for his forthcoming marriage.

A man who looked like Khashoggi, wearing his outfit, glasses and beard, was among the group seen leaving Istanbul on a flight to Riyadh the same day as the killing, the president added.

On Monday, CNN broadcast images appearing to show a Saudi operative leaving the consulate in Khashoggi’s clothes, wearing a fake beard and glasses.

President Erdogan confirmed that 18 people had been arrested in Saudi Arabia over the case. However, he has not released any details of the evidence gathered about the killing.

He made no mention of any audio or video recordings reported by Turkish media in the days following the journalist’s disappearance.

“My demand is that 18 people be tried in Istanbul,” he told MPs from his ruling AK party, adding that “all those who played a role in the murder” would be punished.

He said the suspects included the 15 Saudi officials identified flying to Istanbul ahead of the killing, as well as three consular officials.

He called for an independent commission to be set up to look into the case but said that he was confident of King Salman’s full co-operation.

But he did not mention the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, widely seen as the most powerful figure in the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia has given conflicting accounts, initially saying Khashoggi left the building alive, and then later saying that he had been killed in a “fist-fight” inside the consulate.

On Sunday, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister acknowledged Khashoggi had been murdered, but said the Saudi leadership had not been aware of the “rogue operation”.

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