Saudi investigators sent to help Turkey look into the Jamal Khashoggi consulate murder were removing evidence instead, it has been claimed.

A team of 11 Saudi officials arrived in the country nine days after Khashoggi was killed to take part in a joint Turkish-Saudi probe into the slaying, according to a senior Turkish official.

They included experts on chemicals and toxicology who were reportedly charged with obfuscating the evidence, the official said, confirming a report in Turkey’s Sabah newspaper. 

Turkey believes that two members of the team came to the country ‘for the sole purpose of covering up evidence’ before Turkish police were allowed to search the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, where Khashoggi was killed on October 2 after he entered to collect a document he needed to marry his Turkish fiancee.

Saudi investigators sent to help Turkey look into the Jamal Khashoggi (pictured) consulate murder were removing evidence instead, it has been claimed

Saudi investigators sent to help Turkey look into the Jamal Khashoggi (pictured) consulate murder were removing evidence instead, it has been claimed

Turkey believes that two members of the team came to the country 'for the sole purpose of covering up evidence' before Turkish police were allowed to search the Saudi Consulate (pictured), where Khashoggi was killed on October 2 after he entered to collect a document he needed to marry his Turkish fiancee

Turkey believes that two members of the team came to the country ‘for the sole purpose of covering up evidence’ before Turkish police were allowed to search the Saudi Consulate (pictured), where Khashoggi was killed on October 2 after he entered to collect a document he needed to marry his Turkish fiancee

Sabah identified the two men as Ahmed Abdulaziz al-Jonabi and Khaled Yahya al-Zahrani.

The official said the fact that a clean-up team was dispatched suggests that Khashoggi’s killing ‘was within the knowledge of top Saudi officials.’ 

Istanbul’s chief prosecutor, who is leading the investigation, announced last week that Khashoggi, who lived in exile in the United States, was strangled immediately after he entered the consulate as part of a premeditated killing and that his body was dismembered before being removed.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an op-ed in the Washington Post last week that the order to kill Khashoggi came from the highest level of the Saudi government and added that the international community had the responsibility to ‘reveal the puppet masters’ behind the slaying.

Turkey is seeking the extradition of 18 suspects who were detained in Saudi Arabia so they can be put on trial in Turkey. 

They include 15 members of an alleged Saudi ‘hit squad’ that Turkey says was sent to Istanbul to kill the Washington Post columnist who had written critically of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Turkey says a hit squad was sent to Istanbul to kill the Washington Post columnist who had written critically of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (pictured)

Turkey says a hit squad was sent to Istanbul to kill the Washington Post columnist who had written critically of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (pictured)

On Saturday, Sabah newspaper, which is close to the government, said Khashoggi’s body – which still hasn’t been found – was dismembered and removed from the Saudi Consulate in five suitcases.

A senior official of Turkey’s ruling party – and a friend of Khashoggi’s – has suggested his body may have been dissolved in acid or other chemicals.

Turkey’s vice president, Fuat Oktay told state-run Anadolu Agency that such reports need to be investigated.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (left) posing for a picture with a wounded soldier at the Riyadh Military Hospital today

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (left) posing for a picture with a wounded soldier at the Riyadh Military Hospital today

Meanwhile, two of Khashoggi’s sons appealed for his remains to be returned so that he may be buried in Saudi Arabia.

In an interview with CNN on Sunday, the sons also said they hoped he did not suffer when he was killed.

‘All what we want right now is to bury him in Al-Baqi (cemetery) in Medina with the rest of his family,’ Salah Khashoggi said.

Khashoggi probe will exonerate leader, says billionaire Saudi prince

Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, an international businessman from the kingdom, says an official investigation into the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi will exonerate the country’s leader.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist critical of the Saudi government and its de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in early October. 

‘I ask Saudi Arabia now publicly, through your program, to have the investigation made public as soon as possible,’ he said. ‘I believe the Saudi crown prince will be 100 percent vindicated and exonerated.’

Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal (pictured), an international businessman from the kingdom, says an official investigation into the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi will exonerate the country's leader

Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal (pictured), an international businessman from the kingdom, says an official investigation into the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi will exonerate the country’s leader

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (left) visiting a wounded soldier at the Riyadh Military Hospital

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (left) visiting a wounded soldier at the Riyadh Military Hospital

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist critical of the Saudi government and its de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (pictured left and right visiting Riyadh Military Hospital), was killed after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in early October

Prince Alwaleed was detained last year with dozens of other wealthy Saudis in a move by the crown prince to consolidate power and reform the country.

On Sunday, Prince Alwaleed said his detention was ‘forgiven and forgotten.’

The crown prince’s allies have said last year’s crackdown was a fight against corruption and Prince Alwaleed agreed.

‘Thank God that, after this incident, many of those that were detained had a big cleaning process,’ he said.

Prince Alwaleed was freed from Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel along with other royals, senior officials and businessmen, most of whom reached financial settlements with the authorities.

Prince Alwaleed denied reports that he had been tortured in custody and that officials stripped him of his wealth.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said: 'I believe the Saudi crown prince will be 100 percent vindicated and exonerated'

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said: ‘I believe the Saudi crown prince will be 100 percent vindicated and exonerated’

Advertisement

‘I talked about that with the Saudi authorities and I just hope that it happens soon,’ he said.

Separately, a top Saudi human rights official has reiterated his government’s ‘regret and pain’ over Mr Khashoggi’s death.

Speaking at a regular review of the kingdom’s record by the UN’s top human rights body, Bandar bin Mohammed al-Aiban, the president of the Saudi Human Rights Commission, emphasised that the monarchy had ordered an investigation to ‘bring the perpetrators to justice in order to bear the fact to the public’.

The killing is likely to come up among representatives of more than 100 countries set to speak during the review of Saudi Arabia on Monday.

Other countries, including China, Mexico, Chad and Monaco, are also due to be reviewed in coming days by the 47-member UN-backed body.