Turkish police find clothes in suitcases locked in abandoned Saudi consular car
Eyüp Serbest - Fırat Alkaç / ISTANBUL
Turkish police have found clothes inside two suspicious suitcases in the trunk of a Saudi consular car abandoned in an Istanbul parking lot.
The car, which matched another vehicle seen outside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul where Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi had disappeared on Oct. 2., was found in a private parking lot in the Sultangazi district after a tip-off from a reader who called daily Hürriyet reporters.
According to an employee who spoke to Hürriyet, the Mercedes with the diplomatic plate of 34 CC 1736 was driven into the parking lot by one of the attachés of the consulate, identified only as Muhammed O., on Oct. 7.
“We know him as he has been using our parking lot sometimes. However, normally his Turkish driver uses this car. But on Oct. 7, the attaché was driving it himself,” the employee said.
While Turkey and the international public were still discussing the whereabouts of Khashoggi, the Saudi attaché had returned to the parking lot on Oct. 18 with a BMW carrying the diplomatic plate of 34 CC 2665.
The attaché parked his BMW in front of the Mercedes and unloaded three suitcases, two of them quite large, according to the employee. With the help of one of the parking lot employees, he loaded the suitcases into the Mercedes.
“Khashoggi’s body is not inside the suitcases, is it?” the employee quoted himself as jokingly asking the attaché. “He laughed and answered no,” he said.
Face mask for ‘heavy chemical work’
The employee added that a face mask had fallen on the floor while they loaded the suitcases into the trunk.
“The attaché took it and put it in a trash bin before leaving the parking lot with the BMW,” the employee said. “I was very suspicious. I took the mask and showed it to a doctor. He told me that it was a mask that is used by those who work with heavy chemicals. I was so scared that I instantly put it away,” he said.
The consulate’s Mercedes remained in the parking lot with the suspicious suitcases in its trunk, as well as an iPhone box and a kettle, which can be seen in its back seat.
Turkish police went to the parking lot on Oct. 22 but could not search the car due to its diplomatic immunity.
After receiving a waiver from Saudi authorities, security forces returned to the site and conducted the search on Oct. 23.
According to the initial findings, two suitcases full of clothes were found in the trunk.
The clothes will be analyzed for DNA traces, a security source said.