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UN report implicates Saudis in Khashoggi’s ‘premeditated murder’

A United Nations rights investigator said on Wednesday there is credible evidence that shows Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other senior officials were involved in journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s gruesome killing.

UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Agnes Callamard said the 100-page report, prepared following a six-month investigation, finds Saudi Arabia involved in a “deliberate, premeditated execution”.

“There is sufficient credible evidence regarding the responsibility of the crown prince demanding further investigation,” Callamard was quoted by Reuters.

“We strongly reject any attempt to prejudice the Kingdom’s leadership or to remove the case from the course of justice in the Kingdom or influencing it in any way,” said Callard.

In his response to the UN report, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir tweeted that the report has nothing new and contains “baseless allegations.”

Journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi’s killing in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul sparked international outrage which saw some Western executives pulling out of an investment forum in Riyadh.

The Saudi journalist’s murder largely tarnished Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reputation.

Salman became popular in Western countries before the murder, as he allowed women to drive and met global CEO’s to diversify the Kingdom’s economy which largely depends on oil export.

To put pressure on the Kingdom, Callamard urged countries to cut export licenses for surveillance technologies to Saudi Arabia and also called on the United States to open an FBI investigation and pursue criminal prosecutions, Reuters reported.

Jamal Khashoggi, who was a severe critic of  Salman, entered the Istanbul consulate to receive papers for his marriage with his Turkish fiancée Hatice Cengiz on October 2 last year.

Soon after he entered the consulate, his body was dismembered and his remains have not been found.

Although the Saudi public prosecutor has indicted 11 suspects, including five who could face the death penalty, Callamard said the Saudi trial should be suspended, citing concerns over secrecy and potential miscarriage of justice, Reuters reported.

Callamard also called for a follow-up international criminal probe by the UN. However, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said he can only start a query with a mandate from an inter-governmental body.

Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancée Cengiz, who had been waiting outside the consulate, called on the US to increase pressure and many critics have accused President Donald Trump of not pressuring Saudi Arabia to investigate the killing and continuing business relations.

Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement on June 19, the report confirmed the findings by Turkish authorities, while also determining that the premeditated killing was in violation of international laws and principles. “The report proved that Saudi Arabia was guilty and had prior knowledge of the murder,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said following the UN report.

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