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Turkey wants Saudi Arabia to disclose whereabouts of Khashoggi's body: Justice minister

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Turkey's Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul

Turkey says it wants Saudi authorities to disclose the whereabouts of the body of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in the Arab kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul last month, stressing that Ankara expects Riyadh’s full cooperation in the ongoing investigation into the shocking case.

“We are looking for answers to the question of where the body is,” said Turkey's Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul in a press conference on Thursday, stressing that no cover-up should be included in the Saudi narrative.

“This case cannot be covered up, and we are expecting close cooperation from Saudi authorities on the investigation we are conducting transparently and meticulously,” the justice minister noted.

Khashoggi, 59, an outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had been living in self-imposed exile in the United States since 2017, when Saudi authorities launched a massive crackdown on dissent.

He was seeking to secure documentation for his forthcoming marriage when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, but never came out despite Riyadh’s initial claim that he exited the mission less than an hour after completing his paperwork.

The kingdom, however, later admitted that the journo had been murdered in the consulate during an interrogation by rouge operatives that had gone wrong after diplomatic pressure grew tremendously on Riyadh to give an account on the mysterious fate of its national. However, Saudi Arabia said that it did not know the whereabouts of the journo’s body, which is widely believed to be dismembered.

Gul’s comments came just a day after the office of Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor Irfan Fidan said in a statement that ill-fated Khashoggi was strangled upon his arrival in the Saudi diplomatic mission in Istanbul, then his body was dismembered and destroyed in a “premeditated” murder. The remarks bolstered Turkish investigators’ line of thought that the journo’s remains could have been disposed of at the nearby consul general’s house, dissolved in acid or dumped in a well on the property.

The statement issued after Fidan said his meeting with Saudi Public Prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb, held earlier in the week in Istanbul, had produced “no concrete results” on the murder of Khashoggi as his counterpart had not shared any information, including the testimonies of the 18 people arrested in the Arab kingdom, over the case.

The justice minister further said that Ankara wanted Riyadh to reveal who gave the orders for a 15-member alleged “hit squad” that Turkish authorities said were sent to kill the journalist. “Our expectation is for these questions to be answered swiftly,” Gul stressed.

Asked whether Fidan planned to visit Saudi Arabia as part of the ongoing probe into the case, Gul said that it was “likely not happening because the incident occurred in Turkey.”

“Without Turkey's questions answered, I think it is not right to enter into a new stage,” he added.

On Sunday, British Sunday Express weekly, citing “highly-placed” intelligence sources, reported that a “member of the royal circle” of Saudi Arabia had ordered to kidnap the journalist and take him back to the Arab kingdom. But it is not clear whether the “member” had been Mohammed bin Salman. “Whether he was not the original issuer we cannot say,” the unnamed sources added.

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