ANKARA: Turkish prosecutors investigating the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi questioned Turkish employees of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Friday, widening the hunt for evidence in a case straining some of Riyadh’s oldest alliances.

Khashoggi went missing more than two weeks ago after entering the consulate to obtain documents in relation to a forthcoming marriage. Turkish officials believe he was killed in the building on Oct 2, but Riyadh has denied the allegations.

In an expanding quest for clues, police searched a forest on the outskirts of Istanbul and a city near the Sea of Marmara for Khashoggi’s remains, two senior Turkish officials said, after tracking the routes of cars that left the Saudi consulate and the consul’s residence on the day he vanished.

Investigators have recovered samples from searches of both buildings which it will analyse for traces of Khashoggi’s DNA.

State-run Anadolu news agency said 15 employees of the consulate were giving testimony at the Turkish prosecutor’s office.

Consulate employees questioned as witnesses included accountants, technicians and a driver, Anadolu said. The investigation is being carried out by the prosecutor’s terrorism and organised crime bureau, it added.

Turkey said on Friday it had not shared audio recordings purportedly documenting Khashoggi’s murder inside the consulate, dismissing reports it had passed them to the United States.

Turkish pro-government newspaper Yeni Safak has published what it said were details from the audio, including that his torturers severed Khashoggi’s fingers during an interrogation and later beheaded and dismembered him.

Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2018