'Khashoggi killers may have taken body parts out of country'
November 18 2018 05:19 PM
Hulusi Akar
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar

'Khashoggi killers may have taken body parts out of country'

*EU calls for credible probe into Saudi journalist's murder
*US to decide who ordered killing in a day or two: Trump

The killers of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi may have taken his dismembered body out of Turkey in luggage, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar was quoted as saying by broadcaster CNN Turk on Sunday.

Khashoggi, a US resident and Washington Post columnist, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, sparking global outrage against the kingdom and its de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman.

Riyadh had offered numerous contradictory explanations for his disappearance, before saying Khashoggi was killed after "negotiations" to convince him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.

Speaking at a panel as part of an international conference in Halifax, Canada, Akar said Khashoggi's killers may have taken the journalist's body parts out of Turkey in luggage.

"One probability is that they left the country three to four hours after committing the murder. They may have taken out Khashoggi's dismembered corpse inside luggage without facing problems due to their diplomatic immunity," CNN Turk cited Akar as saying.

Turkey has said a group of 15 individuals, including a two-man "clean-up team", was involved and that Khashoggi's body had been dismembered. Turkish officials have also called for an investigation into whether the body was dissolved in acid.

More than a month after the murder, Turkey is trying to maintain pressure on Prince Mohamed, releasing a stream of evidence that undermined Riyadh's early denials.

US President Donald Trump on Saturday called a CIA assessment blaming Prince Mohamed for the killing "very premature".

He said Washington will determine who killed Khashoggi in the next two days.

Trump stated that a "full report on who did it" will be completed on Monday or Tuesday.

He said that CIA agents would brief him on the latest developments on the investigation.

Trump told reporters that when it came to the Saudi crown prince, "as of this moment we were told that he did not play a role."

Trump had spoken with CIA Director Gina Haspel and Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo on the agency's findings, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

Washington has imposed sanctions on 17 Saudis in the wake of Khashoggi's killing, including the Saudi Consul General Mohamed al-Otaibi in Istanbul.

Saudi public prosecutor Shalaan al-Shalaan said on Thursday that Khashoggi's body was dismembered, removed from the building and handed to an unidentified "local cooperator".On Thursday, without naming them, Shalaan said the Saudi prosecutor had requested the death penalty for five individuals "charged with ordering and committing the crime, and for the appropriate sentences for the other indicted individuals".

However, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said he was not satisfied with Shalaan's statement, pushing Riyadh to disclose the location of Khashoggi's remains and calling for the suspects to be tried in Turkey.

Meanwhile, the European Union reiterated its calls on Sunday for an investigation into the murder of Khashoggi.

"The European Union has been clear since the beginning on its call for a thorough, credible and transparent investigation into the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi," European foreign ministers said in a statement agreed with EU Foreign Policy Coordinator Federica Mogherini.

"The EU took note of the announcement by Saudi authorities on November 15 on the latest developments in their investigation, yet the need remains to shed full clarity on the circumstances

surrounding this horrendous crime as well as to ensure accountability for all those responsible for it," said the the statement tweeted Saturday by the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin.

The CIA has concluded that the crown prince Mohamed bin Salman ordered the assassination, according to reports Friday from the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and others.

But the State Department said Saturday that no "final conclusion" has been reached by the United States on who was behind the murder.

Last updated: November 19 2018 12:30 AM

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