DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES
Credible evidence of liability of high-level Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, found in investigation into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, UN Rights Investigator Agnes Callamard announced Wednesday.
Callamard released a 101-page report into the October killing of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul that lays out dozens of recommendations. It calls on U.N. bodies or Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to “demand” a follow-up criminal investigation.
Khashoggi, a critic of the prince and a Washington Post columnist, was killed in the consulate on Oct. 2, 2018 by a team of 15, consisting of Saudi officials who arrived in Turkey for his murder and a cover-up team also in charge of dismembering Khashoggi’s body. He was to receive papers ahead of his wedding with his Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz.
After weeks of denying any involvement in the crime, Saudi Arabia later admitted that Khashoggi had been killed inside the consulate but denied that the royal family and the crown prince had any prior knowledge of or responsibility for Khashoggi’s killing. The incident was blamed on lower-level officials, including five that are now facing the death penalty over their involvement; the kingdom has indicated 21 people are officially involved in the case.
“It is the conclusion of the Special Rapporteur that Mr. Khashoggi has been the victim of a deliberate, premeditated execution, an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible under international human rights law,” Callamard said in her report based on a six-month investigation.
Callamard went to Turkey earlier this year with a team of forensic and legal experts and said she received evidence from Turkish authorities.
“There is credible evidence, warranting further investigation of high-level Saudi officials’ individual liability, including the Crown Prince’s,” she said.
“Indeed, this human rights inquiry has shown that there is sufficient credible evidence regarding the responsibility of the Crown Prince demanding further investigation,” she added, urging U.N. Secretary-General to establish an international probe.
Callamard noted the “extreme sensitivity” of considering the criminal responsibility of the crown prince, as well as Saud Al Qahtani, a senior adviser to the Saudi royal court who has not been charged.
“No conclusion is made as to guilt,” she wrote of the two men. “The only conclusion made is that there is credible evidence meriting further investigation.”
Callamard called on Saudi Arabia to suspend the trial of 11 suspects in Khashoggi case, citing the risk of a grave miscarriage of justice.
Riyadh must accept responsibility for the murder of the journalist and pay reparations to his family, and also apologize to the Turkish government, where the crime was committed, she added.
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