ISTANBUL – More than a month after her father's death, sons of killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi have applied for a plaintive appeal for the return of his body. He is said to be buried in the Saudi Arabian city, where he was born next to his relatives in a cemetery.
"We just have to make sure he's resting in peace," Salah Khashoggi, 35, told CNN in a Sunday interview with his 33-year-old brother Abdullah Khashoggi in their first comments on the news media since Khashoggi was killed on October 2 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Khashoggi's body was not found. And even as the sons demanded the rapid retrieval of his remains, new evidence from Turkey's case investigation released on Monday made the odds seem small. A Turkish official said investigators believed Saudi Arabia had sent a two-person cleanup team to Turkey nine days after Khashoggi's death to remove evidence of his murder, both at the consulate and at the nearby residence of the Saudi Consul General.
The regional rivalry between Turkey and Saudi Arabia has attracted attention in the weeks since the killing of Khashoggi. The government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has tried to urge the Saudi leaders to recognize their role in death. The Saudi government refused to speak for weeks, but eventually admitted that Khashoggi had been killed at her consulate, even though they accused the villains of Saudi agents.
But in the noise, the voices of Khashoggi's children were lost, mourning and forced to undergo confusion through graphic news reports as they put together details of their father's death. Khashoggi's daughters – Noha (27) and Razan (25) – were not in the CNN interview.
"Everyone tells a different story. I try to simplify it as much as possible. He died, "said Abdullah Khashoggi. "It's not a normal situation and not a normal death."
"I really hope that what happened was not painful or quick for him," he added.
Salah Khashoggi, who lives in Saudi Arabia, shared the public face of family grief when a photo of him with a stony face that met Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was shared on social media and as evidence of The anger of the family was interpreted by the Saudi royal family.
In fact, the king assured him, however, that "all parties will be brought to justice".
"I trust in that. That will happen, "Salah said.
Erdogan said Khashoggi's killing by Saudi agents was deliberate and the order came from the "highest levels" of the Saudi government, though he did not specify who was held responsible. Erdogan also demanded that the Saudi government disclose the location of Khashoggi's corpse.
Turkey has said that a Saudi Arabian cadre had searched Khashoggi shortly after he entered the consulate for a document he needed for his upcoming marriage to his Turkish fiancé. The Turkish authorities said the team dismembered and disposed of Khashoggi's body.
Turkey has repeatedly accused the Saudi authorities of trying to obstruct their investigation. On Monday, a Turkish official said that at least two members of a team that sent Saudi Arabia to investigate the killing of Khashoggi had actually been there to cover it up.
The officer, who had no authority to comment, said the two men's deployment to Turkey "indicates that Khashoggi's killing was in the hands of top Saudi officials."
The official confirmed details in a report released on Monday in the Turkish government magazine "Sabah," which states that the two men – a chemist and a toxicologist – are part of a delegation of Saudi Arabian investigators, nine days after Khashoggis Death had been sent to Turkey.
On October 12, the two men regularly visited the Saudi consulate for a week, the newspaper reported.
"We believe that the two people came exclusively to Turkey to cover up evidence," said the official.
Zeynep Karatas contributed to this report.