What does the Saudi consul’s departure mean?
The mystery surrounding the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who has not been seen since entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 at 13:14, has become one of the most important issues in the international community.
If not fully solved, the sensitivity shown by the world to this dossier and the demand for the perpetrators to be found and brought to justice will not drop from the agenda.
From a moral perspective, Turkey does not have the option to lose interest in this problem.
Moreover, if it is a country that upholds the rule of law, it would be unthinkable for Turkey to put up with a murder committed on its soil.
If such a violent murder goes unaccounted, this will shadow Turkey’s image and clout in the world.
While the United States administration focuses on the issue — despite some waddling — it has asked the Saudi regime to shed light on the issue.
In this respect, one of the most striking statements came from Michelle Bachelet, United Nations’ high commissioner for human rights.
Chile’s former president called on Turkey and Saudi Arabia to shed light about everything on the “disappearance and probable extra-judicial killing” of the journalist.
In view of the gravity of the crime, she asked for diplomatic immunity within the framework of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations to be “waived immediately” to allow for a “prompt, thorough, effective, impartial and transparent” investigation.
In fact, the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations that the commissioner referred to does not bring a rigid immunity as some might think.
For example, Article 41 of the convention gives way to the “detention and arrest” of consular officers in case of a “grave crime.” The absolute immunity that embassy officials have is not valid for consuls.
Saudi Arabia’s Consul General Mohammad al-Otaibi’s departure on Oct. 16 is a very intriguing development in the midst of this debate.
Whatever happened to Khashoggi in the consulate happened in a place under his authority. Therefore, he has a responsibility. At least his testimony as a witness is of crucial importance for the prosecutors who are leading the investigation to shed light on what exactly happened.
According to the Vienna Convention, there is no obstacle in asking for his testimony or even detaining him.
With his departure from Turkey, Al-Otaibi has left behind an inexplicable contradiction.
Just as the consulate under his authority was searched for nine hours over a strong doubt over the murder — followed by a search at his residence — one of the most critical actors of this whole ordeal, Al-Otaibi, was able to leave Turkey freely.
Actually, he was allowed to leave the country.
Question marks will inevitably hang over the Saudi consul’s departure, along with his secrets. We are facing a problematic situation in terms of solving the Khashoggi case.