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High-level Saudi officials responsible for Khashoggi’s killing, says UN-appointed investigator



New York, June 19, 2019 

A United Nations, UN-appointed independent investigator says responsibility for the killing of dissident Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, lies with “high-level officials” of the monarchy.

Ms Agnès Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, stated this in a report to be presented to the Human Rights Council next week.

Callamard suggested that the killing was a “premeditated extrajudicial execution”, and renewed the call for full state accountability for the crime. 

In the 100-page report, she discussed the circumstances leading up to Khashoggi’s death, and considers steps that might have prevented his murder. 

The prominent United States-based writer was last seen alive entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on Oct. 2, 2018.

“The evidence suggests that the murder was premeditated and that the direction from superiors was to kill Khashoggi, at the very least if he would not agree to return.

“Such an operation was the result of elaborate planning involving extensive coordination and significant human and financial resources,” she said.

In the days leading up to his execution, the journalist and other dissidents were “being sought” by Saudi authorities, according to her.

She said when the opportunity arose, Saudi high-level officials planned, oversaw and/or endorsed the mission.

While there have been “numerous theories and allegations” about the killing, “none alters the responsibility of the Saudi Arabia State,” the Special Rapporteur maintained.

She added that 15 Saudi state agents “acted under cover of their official status and used state means to execute Khashoggi”. 

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has denied responsibility for the killing.

Suspects in the killing, including key officials of the government were arrested and are currently on trial in that country.

However, Callamard said there was credible evidence “that warrants further investigation of high-level Saudi officials’ liability, including that of the Crown Prince.

She said in the years preceding Khashoggi’s “execution”, the Crown Prince “at a bare minimum” condoned the arbitrary detention of a large number of journalists and human rights defenders, but also princes and businessmen. 

“Mohammed bin Salman took no action to prevent or punish those responsible… and willingly took the risk that other crimes, such as the killing of Khashoggi, would be committed, whether or not he directly ordered the specific crime.”

Turning to the trial in Saudi Arabia of those suspected of involvement in the killing, the Special Rapporteur questioned the “lack of transparency surrounding even the names of the accused”. 

In November, the Saudi Deputy Public Prosecutor said of 21 individuals held in relation to the killing, 11 were indicted and five of them faced the death penalty. 

These included the “Deputy President of the General Intelligence Presidency,” who had issued “an order to bring back the victim by means of persuasion, and if persuasion fails, to do so by force”, the prosecutor’s office reportedly said.

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