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UN Pressures Saudi Arabia to Come Clean About Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi

People hold signs during a protest at the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington about the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Oct. 10, 2018.

U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet is urging Saudi Arabia and Turkey to reveal everything they know about the disappearance and possible extrajudicial killing of a prominent Saudi journalist. Jamal Khashoggi was last seen entering, but not exiting, the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago.

While Khashoggi disappeared October 2, it was not until Monday, October 15 that Turkish forensic investigators were allowed to search the Saudi consulate.

Bachelet has welcomed this move, but says more is needed. She is urging both Saudi Arabia and Turkey to conduct a prompt, thorough and transparent investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance.

The U.N. Rights chief says she wants the diplomatic immunity that was bestowed by the 1963 Vienna Convention to be waived for all Saudi officials. The commissioner’s spokesman, Rupert Colville, tells VOA that Bachelet wants to make sure a full unimpeded forensic investigation can go forward.

“We hope the lifting of immunity is absolute, so they can investigate everything they wish to and everything they feel they need to, both in the consulate, in the consul general’s premises, in the vehicles that were shown on the CCTV footage, and so on," said Colville. "So, basically the investigators need to be able to investigate everything they wish to.”

Colville says there seems to be clear evidence that Khashoggi entered the consulate and has not been seen since. Therefore, he says the onus for revealing what happened to the journalist is on the Saudi authorities.

International pressure is mounting on Saudi Arabia to come up with answers. More firms are pulling out of a big investment conference scheduled to take place next week in Saudi Arabia. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Riyadh Tuesday to discuss the crisis with Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

U.S. media reports say Saudi Arabia was edging toward acknowledging that Khashoggi was killed after he entered the consulate, blaming his death on an interrogation gone wrong. Khashoggi, a critic of the crown prince in columns written for The Washington Post, had been living in the United States in self-imposed exile. Saudi Arabia has previously denied Khashoggi was killed, saying he left the consulate on his own.