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June 20, 2019

Saudi Arabia rubbishes UN report on Khashoggi’s killing

National

June 20, 2019

GENEVA/RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other senior Saudi officials should be investigated over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi since there is credible evidence they are liable for his death, a UN rights investigator said on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, rejected the investigator’s report as “nothing new”, a British wire service reported. He added in a tweet: “The report of the rapporteur in the human rights council contains clear contradictions and baseless allegations which challenge its credibility.”

Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, called on countries to invoke universal jurisdiction for what she called the international crime and make arrests if individuals’ responsibility is proven.

The report, based on a six-month investigation, also calls on the United States to “open an FBI investigation, if one is not already open, and pursue criminal prosecutions within the United States as appropriate.”

The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, was last seen at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct 2 where he was to receive papers ahead of his wedding. His body was dismembered and removed from the building, the Saudi prosecutor has said, and his remains have not been found.

The Saudi public prosecutor indicted 11 unnamed suspects in November, including five who could face the death penalty on charges of ordering and committing the crime. Callamard said the Saudi trial should be suspended, citing concerns over secret hearings and a potential miscarriage of justice. Instead, a follow-up international criminal probe should be launched, she said.

The UN report publishes excerpts of what it calls conversations inside the consulate shortly before Khashoggi arrived there and during his final moments. A few minutes before Khashoggi arrived, Salah al-Tubaigy, an Interior Ministry forensics doctor who would dismember the body, said he hoped his job would “be easy”, according to the report.

Tubaiqy continued: “Joints will be separated. It is not a problem. The body is heavy. First time I cut on the ground. If we take plastic bags and cut it into pieces, it will be finished. We will wrap each of them.”

The material relies on recordings and forensic work by Turkish investigators and information from the trials of the suspects in Saudi Arabia, the report said. Callamard said that she could not reach firm conclusions about what the team was told was the sound of a “saw” in the operation.

Assessments of the recordings by intelligence officers in Turkey and elsewhere suggested Khashoggi may have been injected with a sedative and then suffocated, the report said.

Callamard went to Turkey this year with forensic and legal experts and said she received evidence from Turkish authorities. Asked if universal jurisdiction meant potential arrests of suspects abroad, Callamard said: “If and when the responsibility of those individuals has been proven, including the responsibilities of a level that warrant arrest, absolutely.”

Judicial authorities in countries that recognise universal jurisdiction for serious offences can investigate and prosecute those crimes no matter where they were committed. Meanwhile, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that his country endorsed the UN recommendations regarding Khashoggi’s killing. “(We) strongly endorse UN Rapporteur Agnes Callamard’s recommendations for elucidating Khashoggi’s murder and holding those responsible accountable,” Cavusoglu said on Twitter.

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