Report: Traces of acid, chemicals found at Saudi consul general’s home

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ISTANBUL, TURKEY - OCTOBER 18: Outside view of the official residence of Consul General of Saudi Arabia as the waiting continues on the disappearance of Prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in Istanbul, Turkey on October 18, 2018. Turkish and Saudi Arabian officials started joint investigation of case of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Officials from a joint Turkish-Saudi team completed an investigation into the case early Thursday after searching the Saudi consul general's official residence as well as the Saudi consulate building in Istanbul. Arif Hüdaverdi Yaman / Anadolu Agency

Saudi authorities used acid and other chemicals to dispose of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s body, according to a source at a Turkish chief public prosecutor’s office who spoke to Al Jazeera.

The source said traces of hydrofluoric acid and other chemicals were found in a well at Consul General Mohammed al-Otaibi’s home in İstanbul.

Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons, reporting from İstanbul, said on Thursday that Turkish investigators were able to take samples from the well when they were first granted access last month.

“We know that on the night of Oct.16 to 17, when the Turkish investigators were working inside the residence and wanted to gain full access to the garden and the well shaft, they were not given permission […] but were able to briefly take some samples from it with rods from the top of it,” he said.

“Those samples have been processed and they include proof that there had been hydrofluoric and other chemicals.”

Simmons said the other samples taken from the sewer and drainage system around the diplomatic district also showed the use of acid.

Saudi Arabia had consistently maintained that Khashoggi left the consulate building after obtaining the necessary paperwork that would allow him to marry his Turkish fiancée before admitting to the journalist’s killing on Oct. 20.

It has since provided conflicting accounts about the way in which Khashoggi was killed.

In a meeting with US evangelicals on Nov. 1, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly reiterated promises to get to the bottom of Khashoggi’s killing and punish those responsible.

So far, 18 people had been reportedly arrested and five fired in connection with the killing.

On Nov. 2, Yasin Aktay, a close aide to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said he believed Khashoggi’s body was dissolved in acid.

“The reason they dismembered Khashoggi’s body was to dissolve his remains more easily,” Aktay said.

“Now we see that not only did they dismember his body but also dissolved it.”

A few days later, the pro-government Sabah newspaper reported that Saudi Arabia sent a chemicals and toxicology expert to İstanbul in an attempt to cover up evidence of the killing.

According to the Turkish daily, Riyadh sent an 11-member “cover-up team” on Oct. 11, nine days after the Washington Post columnist vanished.

The paper said chemist Ahmad Abdulaziz al-Janobi and toxicology expert Khaled Yahya al-Zahrani were among “the so-called investigative team” that visited the consulate every day until Oct. 17, before leaving Turkey on Oct. 20.

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