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UN investigator says Saudi Crown Prince should face Khashoggi murder probe

Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and ardent critic of the Saudi Crown Prince, who was murdered in October, 2018.
Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and ardent critic of the Saudi Crown Prince, who was murdered in October, 2018. DR

A UN rights expert said Wednesday there was enough “credible evidence” linking Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi to warrant an independent inquiry.

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A report by Agnes Callamard, the UN's special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, found the individual liability of high-level Saudi officials should be probed – including that of Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman (MBS).

"No conclusion is made as to guilt," she added. "The only conclusion made is that there is credible evidence meriting further investigation, by a proper authority, as to whether the threshold of criminal responsibility has been met."

Agnès Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, presents her report in Geneva on 19 June, 2019.
Agnès Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, presents her report in Geneva on 19 June, 2019. AFP Photos/Fabrice Coffrini

Callamard said there was evidence that Khashoggi, a contributor to the Washington Post and an MBS critic, was fully aware of the Crown Prince’s powers – and was afraid of him.

Khashoggi was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October. Details were released of the gruesome killing, which included his dismemberment, while his was still alive, with an electric saw.

As part of her investigation, Callamard said she had seen CCTV footage of the murder.

Her report also found evidence that Saudi Arabia "deliberately used consular immunity" to stall Turkey's investigations until the crime scene could be thoroughly cleaned".

Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman in Riyad, on 19 November 2018.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman in Riyad, on 19 November 2018. Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout/Reuters

Saudi authorities initially said they were not aware of his murder, or the details surrounding it, but later pinned the blame on rogue agents.

Saudi prosecutors absolved MBS and have arrested some two dozen people in connection with the killing. They are seeking the death penalty for five men.

Callamard identified 15 people who were involved. She intimated that a large number of them were not on the list of the 11 suspects who are facing trial over the murder.

Saudi prosecutors have not named the 11 suspects for the closed-door trial.

Call for new international investigation

Callamard, as a UN special rapporteur, is independent and does not speak for the UN, but has called for a number of actors to conduct a new investigation into Khashoggi’s murder.

She pushed for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to launch an official international criminal probe, such as an ad hoc or hybrid tribunal.

In her view, Saudi Arabia and Turkey "failed to meet international standards regarding the investigation into unlawful deaths".

Callamard also called for the US Federal Bureau of Investigation to open up a case if they had not already done so, given Khashoggi was a resident of the US.

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