Investigators end search for evidence in Khashoggi case at Saudi consulate
Story Code : 756320
Reuters said on Tuesday that the Saudi team had left the building, citing a witness. It added that a team of around 10 Turkish police investigators and a prosecutor had also left the facility after a nine-hour search.
Following the probe, a senior Turkish official told Reuters that the investigators had gathered evidence, including soil sample.
“The Turkish crime scene investigators carried out searches in the consulate and took the things deemed necessary,” the unnamed official said.
Earlier, a Turkish diplomatic source had said that a joint Turkish-Saudi team would search the consulate.
Later in the day, the mission will also be searched by Turkish police.
Khashoggi, a US resident, The Washington Post columnist, and a leading critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, entered the consulate on October 2 to obtain documents for his pending marriage, but he never left the mission.
The case has shocked the international community amid reports that the journalist has been murdered in an operation ordered by bin Salman.
Turkish officials have already said they are in possession of video and audio evidence which prove Khashoggi was murdered inside the facility and that his body was subsequently moved out of the building.
Cleaners first, investigators next
As the search of the Saudi consulate was underway, video footage surfaced online, showing people with mops and buckets entering the consulate hours before investigators went inside.
“The footage of cleaners prompted speculations and jokes that they were called in to the consulate to remove any remaining evidence from the crime scene,” Russia Today said.
Erdogan: Turkey investigating 'toxic materials’
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the search of the consulate would continue, adding that the investigation was looking into “toxic materials,” Reuters said.
Some materials at the Saudi consulate have been painted over, expressing hope hoped a reasonable opinion would be reached as soon as possible in the investigation.
“My hope is that we can reach conclusions that will give us a reasonable opinion as soon as possible, because the investigation is looking into many things such as toxic materials and those materials being removed by painting them over,” Erdogan told reporters.
UN urges Riyadh to lift ‘immunity’
Amid the ongoing investigations, the UN human rights chief for the lifting of the immunity of officials who may be involved in Khashoggi’s disappearance.
“In view of the seriousness of the situation surrounding the disappearance of Mr. (Jamal) Khashoggi, I believe the inviolability or immunity of the relevant premises and officials bestowed by treaties such as the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations should be waived immediately” Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.
She said “under international law, both a forced disappearance and an extra-judicial killing are very serious crimes,” emphasizing that the probe should not be hindered by the issue of diplomatic immunity.
“Two weeks is a very long time for the probable scene of a crime not to have been subjected to a full forensic investigation,” the UN rights chief added.
Pompeo in Riyadh
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has sent his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Saudi Arabia for “face to face meetings with the Saudi leadership” on the Khashoggi case.
Pompeo held talks with Saudi King Salman on Tuesday on the disappearance of prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The top US diplomat is also scheduled to have dinner with bin Salman on the issue. He will also pay a visit to Turkey.
Trump speculated that “rogue killers” may have been responsible after the kingdom threatened to decisively revisit its US ties if Washington sanctioned it over the case.
Trump’s tweet drew criticisms from Democrats at Congress.
“Been hearing the ridiculous ‘rogue killers’ theory was where the Saudis would go with this,” US Senator Chris Murphy said on Twitter. “Absolutely extraordinary they were able to enlist the President of the United States as their PR agent to float it.”
Riyadh has even warned that it could shoot oil prices up to $200, move close to Russia and “reconcile” with Iran.
Family urges intl. probe
Meanwhile, Khashoggi’s family have issued a statement, published by The Post, recounting their trauma after his disappearance.
“We are sadly and anxiously following the conflicting news regarding the fate of our father after losing contact with him,” Khashoggi’s family said in a statement published by The Post. “Our family is traumatized, and yearns to be together during this painful time.”
“The strong moral and legal responsibility which our father instilled in us obliges us to call for the establishment of an independent and impartial international commission to inquire into the circumstances of his death,” the family said.
Saudi summit faces crisis
Khashoggi’s disappearance and suspected murder have prompted an exodus from a major upcoming investment conference slated to be held in Riyadh on October 23, as pressure mounts on the kingdom to account for the journalist’s fate.
Alphabet Inc’s Google became the latest in a series of businesses and media groups to boycott the so-called Future Investment Initiative Summit, which focuses on bin Salman’s ambitious economic plans that depend highly on foreign investment.
Besides Google, Uber’s Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi, JPMorgan Chase’s CEO Jamie Dimon, Ford’s Executive Chairman Bill Ford, and MasterCard’s CEO Ajay Banga have already announced they will not be attending.
The New York Times, the Financial Times, Bloomberg, CNN and CNBC have also withdrawn as the event's media sponsors.