Friday, 23 August, 2019

UN Report Urges Probe of Saudi Prince MBS Over Jamal Khashoggi Killing

There was no immediate reaction from Riyadh which was sent the 100-page report in advance. ─ AP  File There was no immediate reaction from Riyadh which was sent the 100-page report in advance. ─ AP File
Russell Knight | 19 June, 2019, 20:53

The report places the blame for Khashoggi's killing squarely on Saudi Arabia, and it adds that the circumstances of his murder could be classified as torture - another violation of global law.

The report, based on a six-month investigation, also calls on the United States to "open an FBI investigation, if one is not already open, and pursue criminal prosecutions within the United States as appropriate".

The findings will heap pressure on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to explain what he knew about the murder of Khashoggi.

"No conclusion is made as to guilt", she wrote of Salman and Alqahtani.

In the independent 101-page report into the journalist's brutal murder last October, U.N. investigator Agnes Callamard said the crown prince and individuals allegedly involved in Khashoggi's murder should be hit by "targeted sanctions until and unless evidence is provided and corroborated that he carries no responsibilities for this execution".

He added in a tweet: "The report of the rapporteur in the human rights council contains clear contradictions and baseless allegations which challenge its credibility".

Khashoggi's abduction and murder by a team of Saudi operatives provoked global outrage and tarnished the image of the crown prince, who had been celebrated as a moderate reformer who championed modernizing Saudi Arabia's finances and granting women the right to drive.

Saudi officials refused to allow Callamard to visit Saudi Arabia or conduct interviews there.

"While the Saudi government claims that these resources were put in place by Ahmed Asiri, 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", Callamard wrote.

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After denying any knowledge of Mr Khashoggi's death for weeks, Saudi authorities eventually settled on the explanation that he was killed in an operation masterminded by former advisers to Prince Mohammed.

U.N. Human Rights Commission rapporteur Agnes Callamard spent months investigating the October 2 death of the Washington Post columnist at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by Saudi agents.

Asked if universal jurisdiction meant potential arrests of suspects overseas, Callamard said: "If and when the responsibility of those individuals has been proven, including the responsibilities of a level that warrant arrest, absolutely".

Qahtani has not been charged with any crime either in relation to Khashoggi or anyone else, and continues to work closely with the crown prince, according to insider accounts. He took no action to prevent or punish those responsible. She said she had received information about a "financial package" offered to Khashoggi's children, "but it is questionable whether such package amounts to compensation under worldwide human rights law".

In fact, it was revealed earlier this month that the Trump administration twice approved the transfer of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi's killing.

His body was dismembered and removed from the building, the Saudi prosecutor has said, and his remains have not been found.

In Wednesday's report, she said she found that the probes conducted so far by Saudi Arabia and Turkey had "failed to meet worldwide standards regarding the investigation into unlawful deaths". She criticized the fact that there was "insufficient public attention placed on the proceedings" and that media were not present at the hearings.

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