Saudi Arabia sent a toxicologist and a chemicals expert to Istanbul to cover up the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi before the Turkish police searched the kingdom's consulate, a senior Turkish official said on Monday.
"We believe that the two individuals came to Turkey for the sole purpose of covering up evidence of Jamal Khashoggi's murder before the Turkish police were allowed to search the premises," the official said on condition of anonymity.
The official confirmed a report in the Sabah newspaper, which said that chemicals expert Ahmad Abdulaziz al-Janobi and toxicology expert Khaled Yahya al-Zahrani were among a team sent from Saudi Arabia purportedly to investigate the murder last month.
The report said they visited the consulate every day from their arrival on October 11 until October 17. Khashoggi was murdered inside the consulate on October 2, Turkey has said, but Saudi Arabia only allowed Turkish police to finally search the consulate on October 15.
"The fact that a clean-up team was dispatched from Saudi Arabia nine days after the murder suggests that Khashoggi's slaying was within the knowledge of top Saudi officials," added the official.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week the order to murder Khashoggi came from "the highest levels" of the Saudi government, while he did "not believe for a second" that Saudi's King Salman had ordered the crime.
Turkish media have pointed the finger at powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and analysts have said Ankara is keen to have the heir sidelined from the nexus of power in Riyadh.
However Erdogan has yet to directly accuse Prince Mohammed, who has condemned the murder "a repulsive incident".
Istanbul, Turkey | AFP