A Turkish official says two men were sent to erase evidence of journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder a week after he disappeared at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

A member of security staff stands at the entrance of Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey October 28, 2018.
A member of security staff stands at the entrance of Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey October 28, 2018. (Reuters)

Saudi Arabia sent a toxicologist and a chemicals expert to Istanbul to cover up the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi before the Turkish police searched the consulate, a senior Turkish official said on Monday.

"We believe that the two individuals came to Turkey for the sole purpose of covering up evidence of Jamal Khashoggi's murder before the Turkish police were allowed to search the premises," the official said on condition of anonymity.

The official confirmed a report in the Sabah newspaper, which said that chemicals expert Ahmad Abdulaziz al-Janobi and toxicology expert Khaled Yahya al-Zahrani were among a team sent from Saudi Arabia purportedly to investigate the murder last month.

The report said they visited the consulate every day from their arrival on October 11 until October 17. 

Melinda Nucifora has the latest.

Khashoggi was murdered inside the consulate on October 2, Turkey has said, but Saudi Arabia only allowed Turkish police to finally search the consulate on October 15.

"The fact that a clean-up team was dispatched from Saudi Arabia nine days after the murder suggests that Khashoggi's slaying was within the knowledge of top Saudi officials," added the official.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week the order to murder Khashoggi came from "the highest levels" of the Saudi government, while he did "not believe for a second" that Saudi's King Salman had ordered the crime.

Media have pointed the finger at powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and analysts say Ankara is keen to have the heir sidelined from the nexus of power in Riyadh.

However Erdogan has yet to directly accuse Prince Mohammed, who has condemned the murder "a repulsive incident".

Saudi to punish perpetrators 

Saudi Arabia told the United Nations top human rights body on Monday that it was investigating the murder with a view to prosecuting the perpetrators.

Bandar Al Aiban, President of the Human Rights Commission of Saudi Arabia who headed the government delegation at a regular review of its record, said in a speech to the UN Human Rights Council that King Salman had instructed the public prosecutor to "investigate the case according to applicable laws and to bring perpetrators to justice".

Source: AFP