Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was "brutally murdered" as part of a meticulous plan, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday. Erdogan called for Saudi Arabia to share facts about the case; he also suggested the suspects should be tried in Turkey.
"Neither the Vienna Convention nor other international laws allow the investigation into such a brutal murder to be cloaked behind the shield of diplomatic immunity," the president said.
Erdogan made the remarks in a much-anticipated speech about Khashoggi's killing — one that he timed to coincide with Saudi Arabia's high-profile Future Investment Initiative summit, often called "Davos in the Desert."
It's previously been reported that a 15-member team traveled from Saudi Arabia to Turkey just before Khashoggi disappeared at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. In his speech to Turkey's parliament, Erdogan said the teams arrived in separate groups — two sets of three people and one group of nine.
"The information and evidences uncovered so far show that Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered," Erdogan said. "Covering up such a brutal act would wound the conscience of all mankind."
Erdogan spoke about Khashoggi's killing for more than 45 minutes after beginning his remarks with what he called a "refresh" of the events surrounding Khashoggi's death.
Turkey is pursuing the case, Erdogan said, as both a "representative of humanity's shared conscience and also for its sovereign rights."
The first of the three groups arrived in Turkey at 4:30 in the afternoon on the day before the killing, Erdogan said, adding that both that group and the next set of three Saudis took commercial flights. Next, "a third team of nine people, including generals," arrived on a private plane he said.
After staying in hotels, the 15 Saudis convened at the consulate about an hour before Khashoggi was due to arrive, the president said.
"The first thing they did is to remove the hard disk in the camera system of the consulate," Erdogan said.
Preparations were also under way as those groups were traveling, Erdogan said, describing how a car left the consulate for an "exploration mission" to the Belgrad Forest on the outskirts of Istanbul.
Erdogan's comments come after the international community expressed widespread skepticism over Saudi Arabia's shifting explanations for Khashoggi's disappearance.
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.