Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz’s reported return is seen as a potential challenge to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Jamal Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and then his body was dismembered, the office of city’s chief prosecutor said on Wednesday, in the first official comment in a case that has caused a global outrage.
“In accordance with plans made in advance, the victim, Jamal Khashoggi, was choked to death immediately after entering the Consulate General of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, for marriage formalities,” the statement said.
“The victim’s body was dismembered and destroyed following his death by suffocation – again, in line with advance plans,” it added.
In a statement on Wednesday, the prosecutor’s office described three days of meetings with Saud Al-Mujab, Saudi public prosecutor, as producing “no concrete results”.
“Despite our well-intentioned efforts to reveal the truth, no concrete results have come out of those meetings,” the office said hours after the Saudi prosecutor left Istanbul.
Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who wrote for the Washington Post, was killed in the consulate he was visiting, an incident that has increased tensions between Riyadh and Ankara.
Eighteen men have reportedly been arrested in Saudi Arabia in connection with the murder and investigations are ongoing. Ankara has been urging extradition of the men from Saudi Arabia to be tried in Turkey.
Turkish and international media, according to information from anonymous Turkish sources, had previously reported that Khashoggi was interrogated and tortured in the consulate, before he was killed.
Saud al-Qahtani, a now-sacked top aide of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was the person who interrogated him, according to reports.
After the disappearance of the Washington Post columnist, Saudi Arabia had claimed that he left the consulate shortly after entering it and then later said that Khashoggi was killed in a botched interrogation.
Riyadh recently admitted that a pre-meditated plan was made to kill Khashoggi, but says it was put together by rogue operators without the knowledge of the crown prince, who has been under fire over the brutal killing.
The Istanbul prosecutor’s office also said on Wednesday that it asked Al-Mujab about the location of Khashoggi’s body, which is still missing, and sought information on a reported “local cooperator”.
According to the statement by the office, the Saudi side said in return that Riyadh made no remarks about the existence of a “local cooperator,” adding that the location of the body can only be found through investigations.
In the meetings, the Turkish authorities also reiterated their request for extradition of the suspects.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has toughened his stance on the case, saying a “game was being played to protect senior figures linked to the crime”.
Yasin Aktay, an adviser to Erdogan, said the prosecutor’s statement is a disappointment for the mutual investigation process.
“The agreement between the two sides to cooperate in the case raised expectations to shed light on the details of the killing of Khashoggi and who was behind it,” Aktay, who was also a friend of the journalist, told Al Jazeera.
“But the Saudi officials seem like they have come to Istanbul to be able to obtain the information Turkey has on the murder, rather than mutual sharing of information on the case.”
Aktay also said that the Saudi judiciary was not in a suitable position to hear the case.
“It is obvious that these suspects did not act on their own. Therefore, a political will, whoever it is, that can order a murder in a foreign country, can easily influence the courts in Saudi Arabia as well,” Aktay said.
Earlier in the month, Turkey and Saudi Arabia agreed to jointly investigate the murder of Khashoggi, a critic of bin Salman.
Follow Umut Uras on Twitter: @Um_Uras