ANKARA, Turkey - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Taypip Erdogan did not reveal anything new, but put on the record much of what has been revealed in the case of murdered Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, in a far-reaching speech he delivered to his own party in a widely-anticipated speech on Tuesday night.
Erdogan confirmed the journalist died at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul in what he described as a ‘pre-meditated,’ and ‘savage’ murder.
He said Saudi Arabia still had many questions to answer, including ‘where is the body?’
Erdogan too questioned the issue of jurisdiction, insisting as the ‘crime’ took place on Turkish soil, it should be tried in Turkish courts.
Saudi Arabia has previously insisted the ‘accidental death’ of Khashoggi took place in its consulate, and as such was on Saudi soil and would be a matter for the courts in Saudi Arabia.
On that, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961 is not entirely clear, however on balance it would appear that while diplomatic missions have immunity from anything that goes on within their diplomatic posts (embassies and consulates), territorially they remain on the soil of their host country.
The Turkish prime minister, who promised on Monday to reveal all, describing what he was going to say as ‘the naked truth,’ was not as revealing as anticipated. He did not address crucial issues that have been previously aired through leaks, one of which was the existence or otherwise of audio and possibly videotape of the actual ‘murder.’
The Turkish PM did not make mention of any tape or tapes.
He did say he did not believe Saudi Arabia could blame the affair on a few individuals in the intelligence agency. He said whoever ordered the killing needs to be held accountable.
Mr Erdogan said three teams had travelled from Saudi Arabia to Istanbul in advance of Mr Khashoggi’s death, not two as previously understood. A 3-man team arrived on the day before the journalist was scheduled to attend the consulate. The group visited the Belgrad forest that day, which later became the focus of a search by Turkish police, as it was considered Khashoggi’s remains may have bene buried there. A second and third team of what are considered were Saudi agents arrived on the day of Khashoggi’s appointment on two private planes. They left within hours of Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Mr Erdogan said Turkish police wanted to interview the 18 members of these teams. Saudi Arabia has promised full cooperation in the Turkish investigation.
The Turkish prime minister praised King Salman and acknowledged his sincerity in wanting to fully and transparently investigate the disappearance and murder of the Saudi citizen. He made no mention of the crown prince
Following Mr Erdogan’s address King Salman held a cabinet meeting during which he reportedly pledged that Saudi Arabia would hold to account all those involved in the killing, ‘regardless of who they might be.’
The king and crown prince, along with the Saudi defense minister, both met with members of Mr. Khashoggi’s family on Tuesday at the Al Yamama palace in Riyadh, according to the Saudi Press Agency.
The trio met Khashoggi's brother Sahl bin Ahmad Khashoggi, together with the slain journalist’s eldest son Salah bin Jamal Khashoggi.
The king and the crown prince “expressed their sincere con dolances to the family of Jamal Khashoggi, may God have mercy on him,” the Saudi Press Agency said.