Khashoggi killing ‘perpetrated by Saudi officials’: UN rapporteur
GENEVA / WASHINGTON
The killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul Consulate was “planned and perpetrated by Saudi officials,” the UN special rapporteur said on Feb. 7.
Agnes Callamard recently visited Turkey with a team of experts on an international inquiry into Khashoggi’s murder.
“Evidence collected during my mission to Turkey shows prime facie case that Mr. Khashoggi was the victim of a brutal and premeditated killing, planned and perpetrated by officials of the State of Saudi Arabia,” Callamard was quoted as saying in a statement.
“Turkey’s efforts to apply prompt; effective and thorough; independent and impartial; and transparent investigations - in line with international law - had been seriously curtailed and undermined by Saudi Arabia,” she said.
“Woefully inadequate time and access was granted to Turkish investigators to conduct a professional and effective crime-scene examination and search required by international standards for investigation.”
She added Khashoggi’s murder was the “gravest violation” of the most fundamental of all rights, the right to life.
The killing violated “both international law and core rules of international relations, including the requirements for lawful use of diplomatic missions,” according to the statement.
“Guarantees of immunity were never intended to facilitate the commission of a crime and exonerate its authors of their criminal responsibility or to conceal a violation of the right to life. The circumstances of the killing and the response by State representatives in its aftermath may be described as ‘immunity for impunity’,” Callamard said.
“The murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the sheer brutality of it has brought irreversible tragedy to his loved ones. It is also raising a number of international implications which demand the urgent attention of the international community including the United Nations,” she added.
The statement added the UN team in Turkey met the foreign and justice ministers, intelligence chief, chief prosecutor of Istanbul and a number of other stakeholders, including from the civil society and the media community.
Investigations by the UN are ongoing, and Callamard’s final report will be presented to the Human Rights Council in June, the statement said.
White House under pressure
Meanwhile, The New York Times, citing officials who had seen US intelligence, said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had warned in an intercepted conversation to an aide in 2017 that he would go after Khashoggi “with a bullet” if he did not return to Saudi Arabia from the United States.
US intelligence understood that the ambitious 33-year-old heir apparent was ready to kill the journalist, although he may not have literally meant to shoot him, according to the newspaper.
In October, the then top Republican and Democrat on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee invoked a law that gave the Donald Trump administration 120 days - until February 8 - to determine whether Prince Mohammed ordered Khashoggi’s murder and to outline actions against him.
Khashoggi, a contributor to The Washington Post, was killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
After producing various contradictory explanations, Riyadh acknowledged he was killed inside the consulate building, blaming the act on a botched rendition operation.
Turkey has sought the extradition of the Saudi citizens involved in the killing as well as a fuller accounting of the killing from Riyadh.