An Al Jazeera documentary claims that Jamal Khashoggi was cremated in the oven in the garden of the Saudi consul-general
The body of the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi may have been burnt in a specially constructed tandoori oven at the home of the Saudi Arabian consul-general in Istanbul, it is claimed.
The oven, in the consul-general’s garden, was built before Khashoggi’s visit to the nearby consulate in October, the worker who constructed it told Al Jazeera in a documentary investigating his death.
He said the tandoor-style oven was made to specifications from the consul-general, who required it to be deep and able to burn at temperatures above 1,000C, hot enough to melt metal.
Saudi Arabia first denied any knowledge of Khashoggi’s disappearance, saying he left the building alive, before admitting he had been killed in the consulate but blaming his murder on “rogue elements”.
A CIA report said that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had most likely ordered the killing and that those who carried it out were acting on his behalf. Saudi Arabia denies that he was involved and indicted 11 people for the murder, refusing to extradite them to Turkey and electing to try them at home.
An international investigation began in January and an official report is expected in June.
Based on an audio recording of the killing and its aftermath, Turkish investigators believe Khashoggi was strangled on entering the consulate and his body dismembered with a bone saw. Leaks from the investigators initially indicated that they believed his remains had been dumped in a forest or dissolved in acid.
The documentary contends that the investigators monitored the ignition and burning of the outdoor oven in the consul-general’s garden, yards from the consulate, in the days after Khashoggi’s disappearance. It burnt for three days. Authorities told Al Jazeera that large quantities of meat were grilled in the oven in an apparent attempt to cover up the cremation.
Investigators believe that Khashoggi’s remains were taken from the consulate to the residence in bags stashed in diplomatic vehicles. Saudi Arabia refused to allow access to both buildings for two weeks after his disappearance and the consul-general left Istanbul a day before they went into his residence.
The documentary also alleges that investigators found traces of Khashoggi’s blood in the consul-general’s office after removing fresh paint applied by staff there.
Agnes Callamard, the UN’s special rapporteur, who is leading the murder inquiry, has accused Saudi Arabia of obstructing the investigation. Turkey’s ability to investigate was “seriously curtailed and undermined by Saudi Arabia’s unwillingness, for some 13 days, to allow Turkish investigators access to the crime scenes”, she said last month.
The delay had affected the forensic investigation, she added. Her preliminary report said that Khashoggi “was the victim of a brutal and premeditated killing, planned and perpetrated by officials of the state of Saudi Arabia”.
A report in The New York Times last month said that US intelligence agencies had intercepted a call a year before Khashoggi’s killing in which the crown prince, known as MBS, threatened to use “a bullet” on the journalist if he did not halt his criticism of the Saudi government and return to the kingdom.
Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia for the US fearing reprisals for his outspoken writings against the government. MBS is reported to have complained that Khashoggi’s writings in The Washington Post were tarnishing his image as a reformer.