Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist, was strangled as soon as he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and his body was "dismembered and destroyed", a Turkish prosecutor said Wednesday.
The statement from Irfan Fidan, the chief Istanbul prosecutor, is the first official confirmation from Turkey that the journalist’s body was cut to pieces after he was killed in a premeditated operation on October 2.
The Istanbul prosecutor also expressed frustration that a series of meetings with the chief prosecutor of Saudi Arabia had not yielded any “concrete results”.
Turkey is demanding to know where Mr Khashoggi’s body is and who gave the order for the operation to kill him.
“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,” Mr Fidan said.
“The victim’s body was dismembered and destroyed following his death by suffocation – again, in line with advance plans.”
The statement by Mr Fidan only deepens the mystery over what happened to Mr Khashoggi’s body.
Saudi officials initially claimed the corpse had been given to a “local collaborator” who disposed of it, prompting Turkey to demand that Saudi Arabia hand over the name of the accomplice.
But in his statement, Mr Fidan said Saudi Arabia was no longer making the local collaborator claim, raising further questions about why the kingdom has not been able to say where Mr Khashoggi’s body is.
Saudi Arabia invited Turkish investigators to come to Riyadh to continue cooperating over the investigation.
Both Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, and Hatice Cengiz, Mr Khashoggi’s fiancée, have called for Saudi Arabia to help locate the body.
"We still don’t know where Jamal’s body is," Ms Cengiz told ABC News. "There is no explanation about this. He did not have a funeral yet. This is not acceptable in Islamic rules.”
Turkish investigators have searched a forest north of Istanbul for the body and taken water samples from a well at the residence of the Saudi consul-general.
Mr Erdogan initially expressed optimism that the body could be found quickly but nearly a month after Mr Khashoggi’s death, investigators are still struggling to locate it.
Mr Fidan did not say how he knew that Mr Khashoggi had been strangled. Turkey is widely believed to have bugged the Saudi consulate but to be unwilling to admit that publicly.
Turkey has grown increasingly frustrated with Saudi Arabian authorities in recent days as meetings with Saud al-Mojeb, the Saudi chief prosecutor, yielded little information.
A Turkish official said Mr al-Mojeb and his team seemed "primarily interested in finding out what evidence Turkey had against the perpetrators".
"We did not get the impression that they were keen on genuinely cooperating with the investigation," the official said.
The new statement also contradicts previous leaks from Turkish officials, who said Mr Khashoggi had been interrogated and tortured for some time before he was killed.
Meanwhile, one of the Saudi king’s brothers, who appeared to be living in exile in London after criticising Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince, returned to the kingdom.
The return of Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, fuelled speculation that the royal family was trying to shore up the heir to the throne as he faces allegations of ordering Mr Khashoggi’s murder.
The prince fell out of favour after he was caught on video appearing to blame Crown Prince Mohammed and the king for the stalemated war in Yemen.