UN official calls the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi a ‘brutal and premeditated killing’
The final report on Khashoggi’s death is expected to be presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council in June.
A United Nations human rights expert said Wednesday that there’s “credible evidence” that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for the killing of writer Jamal Khashoggi.
The 101-page report released by Agnes Callamard into the killing of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul urges U.N. bodies or Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to “demand” a follow-up criminal investigation.
She admitted the “extreme sensitivity” of suggesting the criminal responsibility of the crown prince, in addition to Saud Alqahtani, a senior adviser to the Saudi royal court who hasn’t been charged.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman poses during a group picture ahead of Islamic Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, in June. His country is trying to execute an 18-year-old who was arrested when he was 13, reports say.
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“No conclusion is made as to guilt,” she wrote of the two officials. “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.”
She added that there was “no reason why sanctions should not be applied against the Crown Prince and his personal assets.” She said such measures were applied in the past on people even before their guilt was determined.
But the report downplayed the focus on a single official, noting that her focus is to identify those who may have failed in or abused their positions of authority. “The search for justice and accountability is not singularly dependent on finding a ‘smoking gun’ or the person holding it,” she wrote.
Eleven people are currently on trial in Saudi Arabia in largely secret proceedings, and 5 could face the death penalty.
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The report author said she had access to a recording of Khashoggi’s killing and said she received information about a “financial package” offered to Khashoggi’s children, “but it is questionable whether such package amounts to compensation under international human rights law.”
Callamard has been investigating the killing since January and said her inquiry has limitations, including not receiving a response to her request to travel to Saudi Arabia
She added that she had received only a total of 45 minutes of tapes recorded within the consulate around the time of the killing, while Turkish intelligence reportedly had some 7 hours of recordings.
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The report details nearly minute-by-minute accounting of the events surrounding the killing, and notes the sounds of a buzzing saw that could have been used to dismember Khashoggi’s body. She also identified by name 15 suspects in the case.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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