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Khashoggi Killing: UN Experts Say Credible Evidence Available To Justify Investigation Into Role Of Saudi Crown Prince

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GENEVA: Saudi Arabia is responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in its Istanbul consulate last year, and there is “credible evidence” justifying an investigation into the role of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a United Nations expert said in a report released on Wednesday, The New York Times reported.

The expert, Agnes Callamard, said that the United Nations secretary general should establish an international criminal investigation to ensure accountability for the crime.

She also called on the international community to impose targeted sanctions on Saudi officials said to have been involved in the murder, including Prince Mohammed. The sanctions should focus on the prince’s personal assets abroad “until and unless evidence has been produced that he bears no responsibility for the execution of Mr Khashoggi”.

“There is credible evidence warranting further investigation of high-level Saudi officials’ individual liability, including the crown prince’s,” Callamard said in a 100-page report, issued after a five-month investigation.

“Evidence points to the 15-person mission to execute Mr Khashoggi requiring significant government coordination, resources and finances,” Callamard wrote. “Every expert consulted finds it inconceivable that an operation of this scale could be implemented without the crown prince being aware, at a minimum, that some sort of mission of a criminal nature, directed at Mr Khashoggi, was being launched.”

“Mr Khashoggi’s killing constituted an extrajudicial killing for which the state of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is responsible,” and may also have been an act of torture under international treaties, Callamard wrote. “His attempted kidnapping would also constitute a violation under international human rights law.”

Saudi Arabia has put 11 officials identified as being linked to the killing on trial, but has conducted the proceedings in secret.

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Callamard said that the trial failed to meet international standards. She called for Saudi Arabia to suspend the trial and cooperate with the United Nations in conducting further investigations and in deciding on the format and location of a trial. Failing that, she said, it should carry out further investigations and allow international participation in the trial.

She coupled her recommendation with a scathing assessment of Saudi Arabia’s actions after the murder. She said that Saudi Arabia’s investigation of the crime had not been conducted in good faith and that it may have amounted to obstruction of justice, citing evidence that officials hindered the work of Turkish investigators, including having the murder scene forensically cleaned before it could be examined.

She said that Saudi Arabia had not cooperated with her inquiry, failing to respond to her requests to visit the kingdom.

She urged the FBI to open an investigation, if it has not already done so, and she asked the United States to make a determination under American law on the responsibility of the crown prince for Khashoggi’s death.

Callamard also said that there was credible evidence that the CIA had notified four western countries of “foreseeable and immediate threats” against residents who fled Saudi Arabia or another Gulf country that goes unnamed.

Although she said there is “insufficient evidence” to suggest that Turkey or the United States knew or could foresee the threat to Khashoggi, but cites an October 2018 Washington post report, which claimed that the US intelligence agencies had intercepted communications between Saudi officials discussing plans to abduct Khashoggi.

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The UN investigator asked whether CIA analysts would have concluded that Khashoggi was under threat if the intercepts had been analysed sooner.

Qahtani, one of the architects of Khashoggi’s assassination, has been behind a relentless campaign to target critics of the Saudi government online.

In her report, Callamard said experts consulted for her inquiry have raised the role played by lobbyists, PR firms and media outlets who, contracted by the Saudi government, individuals or companies, have protected the reputation of the kingdom abroad.

“The work of one company in particular was mentioned for the monitoring and analysis of social media they undertake to help identify messages and messengers critical of Saudi Arabia,” she said, without elaborating.


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