Saudi journalist Khashoggi's body may have been incinerated in garden furnace: Turkish police

A demonstrator holds a picture of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a protest in front of Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Photograph:( Reuters )

Agencia EFE Istanbul, Turkey Feb 15, 2019, 10.34 AM (IST)

Turkish police on Thursday said that investigators suspect that the corpse of a Saudi Arabian journalist who was allegedly murdered by agents of the Middle Eastern kingdom was incinerated in a furnace located in the garden of the Arab nation's consulate in Istanbul, where the killing allegedly took place.

Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, died inside the Saudi consulate after entering it on October 2, 2018 in order to obtain documents that would enable him to marry his Turkish fiancée.

Investigators recently discovered an underground furnace that can reach up to 1,000 degrees Celsius, a temperature high enough to eliminate all traces of DNA, according to a document published by the Turkish state news agency Anadolu.

The investigators had already concluded that Khashoggi's corpse had been dismembered inside the consulate, apparently by a Saudi hit squad, but his remains have yet to be found.

Some media outlets had previously speculated that his dismembered body has been sent abroad or was dissolved in a vat of acid.

The police report said that, after the killing, the hit squad allegedly ordered 32 portions of raw meat, a normal order to prepare tandir, a traditional Turkish dish that is usually cooked in this kind of furnace.

The consulate facilities have been cleaned using chemical products to destroy any possible evidence, according to the report.

Long a member of the Saudi establishment, Khashoggi became estranged from the government in Riyadh as a result of his criticism of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and had been living in self-imposed exile in the US since 2017.

Turkish authorities claim that a team of 15 Saudi agents travelled to Istanbul, strangled the journalist and dismembered his body before boarding a flight back to Riyadh.

After initially refuting the accusations, Saudi Arabia admitted that Khashoggi had died at its consulate, although it officially continues to deny any involvement of members of the royal family.

Saudi Arabian prosecutors have arrested 22 people linked to the case, several of whom could be handed the death penalty.

The Saudi kingdom insisted that the crown prince had not had any prior knowledge of the operation in Istanbul, whose original aim supposedly was to bring Khashoggi back to Riyadh.

Khashoggi's slaying has caused a major diplomatic uproar across the Middle East and caused Saudi Arabia to scale back its foreign activities in Yemen and in other spheres.

Story highlights

Investigators recently discovered an underground furnace that can reach up to 1,000 degrees Celsius, a temperature high enough to eliminate all traces of DNA, according to a document published by the Turkish state news agency Anadolu.