Khashoggi murder ‘planned and perpetrated by Saudi officials’, says UN human rights expert

The murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi was “planned and perpetrated by Saudi officials”, the UN special rapporteur leading an independent human rights inquiry into the killing has said.

Agnes Callamard is writing a report to be presented to the Human Rights Council about the incident and has visited Turkey as part of the investigations into Mr Khashoggi’s death.

Mr Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was last seen alive when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.

Premilnary findings have said it was almost two weeks before Turkish authorities were allowed to enter the consulate and have placed the blame on the Saudi state.

“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,” Ms 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.”

Ms Callamard was unable to examine the Saudi consulate where Mr Khashoggi was killed despite requesting access to the crime scene, prompting Turkish officials to add pressure on Riyadh.

She said the killing violated both international law and core rules of international relations, including the requirements for lawful use of diplomatic missions.

“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’,” she said.

Ms Callamard conducted her research between 28 January and 3 February; she was the special rapporteur’s first official visit to the country.

The team, which includes a UK barrister and a Portuguese forensic pathologist, met the minister of foreign affairs, the minister of justice, the chief of Turkish intelligence, the chief prosecutor of Istanbul and a number of other stakeholders, including from civil society and the media.

They praised Turkey’s efforts to apply independent, impartial and transparent investigations – in line with international law – which they said had been seriously curtailed and undermined by Saudi Arabia.

 

“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 said.

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