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19 June, 2019 08:45:40 PM

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'Credible evidence' linking Saudi crown prince to Khashoggi murder: UN expert

Independent Online/ AFP
'Credible evidence' linking Saudi crown prince to Khashoggi murder: UN expert
The UN expert says Khashoggi was "fully aware of the powers held by the Crown Prince, and fearful of him"

There is "credible evidence" linking Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a UN expert said Wednesday, calling for sanctions on the prince's personal foreign assets.

The allegation regarding Prince Mohammed's possible direct role in Khashoggi's execution was detailed in a new report by the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard.

Callamard, an independent human rights expert who does not speak for the United Nations, called on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to initiate a formal international criminal investigation into the case.

She told reporters it was clear "the execution of Mr Khashoggi was the responsibility of the state of Saudi Arabia."

She added: "There is credible evidence, warranting further investigation of high-level Saudi Officials’ individual liability, including the Crown Prince's."

- Consulate murder -

Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor and critic of Prince Mohammed, was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. His dismembered body has never been found.

Riyadh initially said it had no knowledge of his fate, but later blamed the murder on rogue agents.

Saudi prosecutors have absolved the crown prince of responsibility.

But Callamard said probes by Saudi Arabia and Turkey "failed to meet international standards regarding the investigation into unlawful deaths".

The report specifically came across evidence that the crime scenes were "thoroughly, even forensically, cleaned" by the Saudis, in what "may amount to obstructing justice."

Callamard said the Saudi crown prince must have been aware of the cover-up efforts.

She stressed she had not found concrete evidence of who ordered the killing, but pointed out to reporters that "people directly implicated in the murder reported to him (the crown prince)".

"What needs to be investigated is the extent to which the crown prince knew or should have known what would (happen) to Mr Khashoggi, whether he directly or indirectly incited the killing...

(and) whether he could have prevented the execution," she said.

The UN expert also insisted that any international sanctions over Khashoggi's killing "ought also to include the crown prince and his personal assets abroad, until and unless evidence is provided and corroborated that he carries no responsibilities for this execution."

Asked if sanctions should also include arrest, she said that "if and when the responsibility of those individuals has been proven ... then absolutely."

- No finding on 'guilt' -

Callamard stressed that "no conclusion is made as to guilt," within her findings that were based on a large body of evidence, including CCTV footage from inside the consulate and recordings of the killing itself.

"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 said.

The recording of the killing features an official asking "if the sacrificial animal had arrived", sounds of a struggle, and someone saying "keep pushing", the report said.

"Assessments of the recordings by intelligence officers in Turkey and other countries suggest that Mr Khashoggi could have been injected with a sedative and then suffocated using a plastic bag," it added.

Turkey praised the report, with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeting: "Strongly endorse UN Rapporteur Agnes Callamard's recommendations for elucidating Khashoggi's murder & holding those responsible accountable."

- Criminal investigation -

The report identified by name the 15 people she said were part of the mission to kill Khashoggi, and suggested that many of them were not on the list of 11 unnamed suspects facing a closed-door trial in Saudi Arabia.

Callamard questioned the credibility of the trial and urged its suspension, saying it would be best for the international community to take over the probe and subsequent trial.

She urged Guterres to launch an official international criminal investigation that would "build up strong files on each of the alleged perpetrators and identify mechanisms for formal accountability, such as an ad hoc or hybrid tribunal".

She also called on the FBI in the United States, where Khashoggi was a resident, to open an investigation into the case "and pursue criminal prosecutions within the United States, as appropriate".

HM

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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