ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish investigators were due to begin the search of a well in the garden of the Saudi consul general’s residence in Istanbul on Wednesday, broadcaster NTV said, after Saudi officials had earlier refused to allow them to search.
Turkey’s investigation into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Oct.2 has been at times delayed by Saudi officials, who have appeared reluctant to grant authorities permission to search places considered Saudi territory.
The state-run Anadolu news agency initially said Saudi officials had refused to allow police to search the well in the garden of the consul’s residence. NTV later said that had been given permission and would conduct inspections on Wednesday.
Since Khashoggi’s disappearance more than three weeks ago, Turkish and Saudi authorities have carried out multiple searches at the consulate and consul general’s residence in Istanbul.
After weeks of conflicting accounts about the fate of the journalist, Saudi Arabia at the weekend said Khashoggi had been killed in a fight at the consulate, in what U.S. President Donald Trump later called the “worst cover-up ever”.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said he would not let those responsible for Khashoggi’s killing escape justice, and has urged Saudi Arabia to search from “top to bottom” to uncover those behind the killing.
A day before Khashoggi’s death, agents arrived from overseas and began to scout locations, including the Belgrad Forest near Istanbul and the city of Yalova to its south, Erdogan said on Tuesday. Police have searched both areas for evidence of Khashoggi’s remains, Reuters has reported.
On Wednesday, Turkish media released images of what they said was a consulate vehicle with diplomatic license plates used in carrying out exploratory searches in the Belgrad forest ahead of the killing.
Investigators on Tuesday searched a Saudi consulate car in Istanbul. That search is due to continue on Wednesday.
Turkish officials suspect Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and columnist for the Washington Post, was killed and dismembered inside the consulate by Saudi agents on Oct. 2.
Riyadh called the killing a “huge and grave mistake”, on Sunday, but has sought to shield the crown prince from the widening crisis, saying Mohammed bin Salman had not been aware.
Editing by David Dolan and Alison Williams
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