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Erdogan calls for suspects in ‘savage’ Khashoggi killing to be tried in Turkey

Screengrab | Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses parliament in the capital Ankara on October 23, 2018.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called on Tuesday for the 18 suspects arrested in Saudi Arabia in connection with the murder of prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi to be tried in Istanbul.

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In a speech to parliament, Erdogan said that there were strong signs that the “savage” killing of Khashoggi was planned in advance.

He said the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s remains were still unknown and demanded that Saudi Arabia reveal the identity of a “local cooperator” who purportedly took the body.

Erdogan did not mention Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who some US lawmakers suspect ordered the killing. But he said Turkey would not complete its investigation into Khashoggi’s death until all questions were answered.

'The 18 people arrested by Saudi authorities in connection to the case should be tried and judged in Istanbul'

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and vocal critic of the crown prince – the kingdom’s de facto ruler – disappeared three weeks ago after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage.

>> Watch: Saudi Arabia is becoming a one-man rule’, Khashoggi tells FRANCE 24

Turkish officials suspect Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the consulate by Saudi agents. Turkish sources say authorities have an audio recording purportedly documenting the killing of the 59-year-old.

Riyadh initially denied knowledge of his fate before saying he was killed in a fight in the consulate, a reaction greeted sceptically by several Western governments, straining relations with the world’s biggest oil exporter.

'There are strong indications the incident was not an accident'

Following global outrage prompted by the journalist’s disappearance, US President Donald Trump’s comments have varied from playing down Riyadh’s role to warning of possible economic sanctions.

Trump has also repeatedly highlighted the kingdom’s importance as a US ally and said Prince Mohammed was a strong and passionate leader.

For Saudi Arabia’s allies, the question will be whether they believe that Prince Mohammed, who has painted himself as a reformer, has any culpability. King Salman, 82, has handed the day-to-day running of Saudi Arabia to the 33-year-old prince.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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