Turkish investigators leave Saudi consulate after nine-hour inspection as reports say Riyadh changes story
Reporters waiting outside the consulate in Istanbul's Levent district said early Oct. 16 that Turkish crime scene investigators turned off all the lights and surveyed the interior of the Saudi consulate with a special blue light used in forensics probes. Forensics tests like spraying luminol, a chemical mixture, can expose blood left behind. Noise of hammer and sledgehammer blows were heard throughout the night.
A team of Turkish police investigating the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has spent more than nine hours in Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, as reports circulated that the kingdom may concede the killing took place there.
Khashoggi, a U.S. resident, Washington Post columnist and leading critic of the powerful Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, vanished after entering the consulate on Oct. 2 to get marriage documents. Turkish officials say they believe he was murdered there and his body removed.
An acting chief prosecutor and a public prosecutor assigned by Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office carried out the probe at the consulate with Saudi officials.
Specialists from anti-terror branch and crime scene investigation units of Istanbul Provincial Security Directorate are also included in the team.
Four forensic vehicles arrived outside the consulate and took away soil samples as well as a metal door from the garden. A police dog was part of the search team.
The Turkish crime scene investigation team of around 10 people left the consulate before 5 am (0200 GMT) after completing a search early on Oct. 16.
The Turkish prosecutor left around 1-1/2 hours later, followed shortly after by a Saudi team that departed in three vehicles.
A second probe inside the consulate will be conducted later on Oct. 16.
Reports say Saudis to admit 'botched interrogation'
While the search was being carried out, CNN and the New York Times reported that Saudi Arabia was preparing to acknowledge Khashoggi’s death in a botched interrogation.
The New York Times, citing a person familiar with the Saudi plans, reported the crown prince had approved an interrogation or rendition of Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government, it said, would shield the prince by blaming an intelligence official for the bungled operation.
U.S. President Donald Trump, who had earlier speculated that “rogue killers” may be responsible from Khashoggi's disappearance, dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet King Salman over the case that has strained the Americans’ relationship with the Saudis.
The case has provoked an international outcry against Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, with more media and business executives pulling out of a planned investment conference there this month.
Alphabet Inc's Google on Oct. 15 became the latest company to say it would boycott the Future Investment Initiative Summit scheduled to be held in Riyadh starting Oct. 23.
Members of Khashoggi's family called for an investigation, in a statement released on Oct. 15.
“We are sadly and anxiously following the conflicting news regarding the fate of our father after losing contact with him two weeks ago,” they said.
“The strong moral and legal responsibility which our father instilled in us obliges us to call for the establishment of an independent and impartial international commission to inquire into the circumstances of his death.”