The killers of Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident journalist murdered in Saudi Arabia's Istanbul consulate, may have used diplomatic immunity to smuggle his body out of the country in their luggage, according to Turkey's defence minister.
Khashoggi's body has still not been found more than six weeks after he was killed, triggering a wave of global outrage at the kingdom, the Daily Telegraph reports.
Donald Trump, the US President, has so far declined to publicly support the conclusion of the CIA that Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the killing but says he expects a full report this week.
Riyadh has offered several explanations for what happened but insists the Crown Prince was not involved.
At the weekend, Hulusi Akar, the Turkish Defence Minister, reportedly said the journalist's killers may have taken his body parts out of Turkey.
"One probability is that they left the country three to four hours after committing the murder. They may have taken out Khashoggi's dismembered corpse inside luggage without facing problems due to their diplomatic immunity," said Akar, according to CNN Turk.
Turkey has said a 15-man team was involved in the killing.
Last week, a Saudi prosecutor said the body was dismembered, removed from the building and handed to an unidentified "local co-operator".
On Saturday, US news organisations reported that the CIA had concluded that responsibility stretched to the very top of the country's ruling family.
However, Trump, who is under pressure to distance the US from a close ally, has pushed back, saying the conclusion was "very premature".
"We'll be having a very full report over the next two days," Trump said yesterday.
His position was backed by the State Department, which issued a statement saying the US had not yet come to a final conclusion about who ordered the killing.