A Saudi consulate worker in Istanbul has told a Turkish court he was asked to light an oven less than an hour after Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered the building where he was killed in 2018.
Zeki Demir, a local technician who worked for the consulate, was giving evidence on Friday, on the first day of the trial in absentia of 20 Saudi officials over Khashoggi’s killing which sparked global outrage.
Demir said he had been called to the consul’s residence after Khashoggi entered the nearby consulate.
“There were five to six people there … They asked me to light up the tandoor [oven]. There was an air of panic,” said Demir.
Khashoggi disappeared after entering the consulate building in October 2018 to get papers for his upcoming marriage.
Some Western governments, as well as the CIA, said they believed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) ordered the killing – an accusation Saudi officials denied.
Turkish officials have said one theory police pursued was that the killers may have tried to dispose of the body by burning it after suffocating him and cutting up his corpse.
Skewers of meat
According to his testimony in the indictment, Demir reported seeing many skewers of meat and a small barbecue in addition to the oven in the consul’s garden.
Marble slabs around the oven appeared to have changed colour as if they had been cleaned with a chemical, the indictment reported him as saying.
Separate witness testimony in the indictment, from the consul’s driver, said the consul had ordered raw kebabs to be bought from a local restaurant.
Demir offered to help with the garage door when a car with darkened windows arrived, but he was told to leave the garden quickly, the indictment said.