Saudi Arabia ‘to ADMIT missing journalist killed’ in consulate interrogation

US Finance Minister Steven Mnuchin taking an ear piece out during a joint press conference with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble in Berlin Germany 16 March 2017

Saudi officials previously have called the allegations "baseless", but reports in USA media on Tuesday suggested the kingdom may acknowledge the writer was killed there.

The developments were preceded by media reports citing Turkish investigators as claiming the journalist was murdered inside the consulate.

A team of Turkish police investigating the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago, spent more than nine hours in the building, a Reuters witness said.

Turkish forensics and police officers arrive to the Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul on October 15, 2018, to search the premises in the investigation over missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Bachelet stressed that "under global law, both a forced disappearance and an extra-judicial killing are very serious crimes, and immunity should not be used to impede investigations into what happened and who is responsible".

Saudi Arabia has denied any involvement in his disappearance.

Bachelet's spokesman Rupert Colville told AFP that the United Nations rights chief had been in contact with the Saudis to discuss the matter.

Trump suggested on Monday that "rogue killers" could be to blame for Khashoggi's disappearance - an apparent row back from earlier threats of "severe punishment" against the Saudi government if it turned out Khashoggi was murdered. Under the Vienna Convention, diplomatic posts are technically foreign soil that must be protected and respected by host countries.

Turkey had wanted to search the consulate for days. "Absolutely extraordinary they were able to enlist the president as their PR agent to float it", said Chris Murphy, a Democrat senator.

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The Turkish inspection team included a prosecutor, a deputy prosecutor, anti-terror police and forensic experts, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Members of Khashoggi's family called for an investigation, in a statement released on Monday. But he left the country in June 2017, fearing for his safety after writing articles critical of the government, particularly Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

That has firmed up a growing belief in Western circles that the prince who fueled a war in Yemen to the point of humanitarian disaster, imposed an intemperate blockade against Qatar, arrested a clutch of Saudi elites for money and took two weeks to come up with a passable explanation for Khashoggi's fate is not ready for the throne.

Saudi Arabia has denied any role in Khashoggi's disappearance.

Khashoggi moved to Washington after Crown Prince Mohammed began a kingdomwide anti-corruption crackdown, including efforts to silence dissidents. But Khashoggi's disappearance has led several business leaders and media outlets to back out of the upcoming investment conference in Riyadh, called the Future Investment Initiative. On Monday, the Glover Park Group, which had a $150,000-per-month contract to represent the Saudi government, and the BGR Group, with an $80,000-per-month contract, both ended the relationships, according to people familiar with the situations. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, KKR executive David Petraeus and Ford Motor Chairman Bill Ford have also said that they will not attend the Saudi event.

"Larry Kudlow, Mr Trump's economic adviser, said the U.S. would take "stern action" if necessary" and brushed off Riyadh's threats to drive up oil prices.

Trump's warning drew an angry response on Sunday from Saudi Arabia and its state-linked media, including a suggestion that Riyadh could wield its oil production as a weapon.

The US president has also been counting on Riyadh to plug any gap in world oil supplies as he prepares to reimpose a second tranche of crippling sanctions against Tehran in November following his abandonment of a landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

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