Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that there were strong signs that the killing of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was planned and that he was killed in a “savage way”.
Erdogan, who was speaking to members of his AK Party in parliament, also said he told Saudi King Salman that the Saudi consul in Istanbul was incompetent and that he was relieved of his duty and returned to his country.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan added that the 18 people arrested in Saudi Arabia in relation to the killing matches Turkish intelligence on the matter.
He also called for the suspects to be tried in Istanbul.
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.
A day before the killing, Erdogan 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.
Erdogan 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.
He demanded Saudi Arabia provide answers about where Khashoggi’s body was and who ordered the operation.
“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.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan made no mention of any audio or video recordings mentioned in media reports in the days following the journalist’s disappearance.