Turkish police forensic experts examine the roof of the residence of Saudi Arabia’s consul-general. (Reuters: Osman Orsal)
Turkish police are searching a forest on the outskirts of Istanbul and a city near the Sea of Marmara for the remains of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared two weeks ago after entering the Saudi consulate, two Turkish officials say.
- Authorities widened the geographic focus of the search after tracking cars that left the consulate on October 2
- The Turkish officials said a “farm house or villa” may have been used to dispose of the remains
- Samples taken from the consulate and consul building are being tested for Khashoggi’s DNA
Investigators have also recovered “many samples” from their searches of the consulate and the consul’s residence, the senior officials said, and will attempt to analyse those for traces of the DNA.
They were seen leaving the consulate carrying large boxes.
Turkish officials have said they believe the journalist, a US citizen and critic of Saudi rulers, was murdered inside the Saudi consulate building and his body chopped up and removed.
Saudi Arabia has denied the allegations.
Turkish forensic officers left the consulate building with boxes full of items. (AP: Emrah Gurel)
Authorities widened the geographic focus of the search after tracking the routes and stops of cars that left the Saudi consulate and the consul’s residence on October 2, the day Khashoggi was last seen, the senior officials said.
Khashoggi’s killers may have dumped his remains in Belgrad Forest adjacent to Istanbul, and at a rural location near the city of Yalova, a 90-kilometre drive south of Istanbul, the officials said.
“The investigations led to some suspicion that his remains may be in the city of Yalova and the Belgrad forest, police have been searching these areas,” one of the officials said.
A “farm house or villa” may have been used for the disposal of remains, the official said.
Turkish investigators have for a second time searched the Saudi consulate where Khashoggi disappeared, and also searched the consul’s residence.
Khashoggi went to the consulate seeking documents for his planned marriage and has not been seen since.
CCTV images show the Saudi hit men allegedly involved in Khashoggi’s disappearance. (Reuters: TRT World)
Many samples, including soil and water, were taken from the consulate and the residence, the official said.
All of the samples will be taken to analyse for traces of Khashoggi’s DNA.
Khashoggi’s disappearance and likely death has caused an international outcry and strained relations between Saudi Arabia and the United States and European countries.
The expanded search came as the US and other nations abandoned an upcoming Saudi investment summit and US President Donald Trump told reporters that it “certainly looks” like Khashoggi was dead.
Mr Trump, following advice from US Secretary Mike Pompeo — who had just returned from Riyadh where he met with the Crown Prince and King Salman — said that the US response to Saudi Arabia will likely be “very severe”, but that he still wanted to get to the bottom of what exactly happened.