Credible evidence for probe into Saudi prince over Khashoggi's murder, says UN report

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By Chris Harris  & Reuters
Credible evidence for probe into Saudi prince over Khashoggi's murder, says UN report
  • Credible evidence of high-level Saudi officials' liability for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, says UN report
  • Those officials include Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to UN special rapporteur, Agnes Callamard.
  • Callamard called for targeted sanction on Saudis linked to killing including prince and his personal assets abroad
  • Saudi Arabia's minister of state for foreign affairs questioned the neutrality of the report

There is credible evidence warranting further investigation that Prince Mohammed bin Salman is among high-level Saudi officials liable for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a UN special rapporteur has concluded.

Khashoggi, a critic of Riyadh, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to collect papers ahead of his wedding. His body was dismembered and removed from the building and his remains have not been found.

"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," said UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard.

"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."

Targeted sanctions on Saudis linked to the killing "ought to include the Crown Prince and his personal assets abroad," the investigator stated.

'Clear contradictions'

Saudi Arabia has always vehemently denied that its leadership ordered the killing of the Washington Post columnist, blaming rogues agents instead.

Foreign Minister Adel Aljubeir rejected the conclusions of the 100-page report it had received in advance, tweeting that it contains "clear contradictions and unfounded allegations."

"We affirm that the Kingdom's judicial authorities are the only ones competent to hear this case and exercise their jurisdiction with complete independence and we strongly reject any attempt to prejudice the Kingdom's leadership or to remove the case from the course of justice in the Kingdom or to influence it in any way," he added.

Jubeir also challenged the neutrality of the report. In a statement published by state news agency SPA, he said the report contained "false accusations confirmed as stemming from the preconceived ideas and positions" of Callamard towards the kingdom.

He said the Saudi authorities had provided a progress report on the Khashoggi case to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights on June 3, and retained the right to take legal action in response to the report's claims.

In an interview published in the pan-Arab Asharq al-Awsat newspaper on Sunday, the Crown Prince described Khashoggi's murder as a "very painful crime" and warned against "any party seeking to politically exploit the case".

He added that "those accused of carrying out the crime are government officials" and that the Kingdom would seek to "achieve full justice and accountability, without getting distracted by positions taken by some for their own domestic considerations that are known to everyone."

Amnesty International has called on the UN to launch an international criminal investigation, while Human Rights Watch said UN member countries should support targeted sanctions on members of the Saudi leadership responsible for human rights violations.

Report releases new recordings believed to be from inside the consulate

The UN report published excerpts of what it said are conversations that took place before Khashoggi arrived there and during his final moments.

One of the excerpts is said to be from Salah al-Tubaigy, an Interior Ministry forensics doctor who would dismember the body. He is heard saying that his job "would be easy," according to the report.

The material relies on recordings and forensic work done by Turkish investigators and information from the trials of the suspects in Saudi Arabia, said the report.

A study of the recordings by intelligence officers in Turkey and elsewhere suggested the journalist was given a sedative and then suffocated, the report added.

Khashoggi's killers "will pay the price"

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said those responsible for the murder will pay the price in response to the UN report.

Speaking at an event in Istanbul, Erdogan said the findings in Callamard's report showed that Turkey had been mistreated in the process.

Turkey's foreign ministry called on all UN member states and international institutions to insist on carrying out the recommendations made in the report.

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