UN investigator: Saudi officials planned 'brutal' Khashoggi killing, curtailed investigations

UN investigator: Saudi officials planned 'brutal' Khashoggi killing, curtailed investigations
The UN Special Rapporteur investigating the killing of Jamal Khashoggi has accused Saudi officials of planning the journalist's killing and hampering independent investigations.
3 min read
08 February, 2019
The UN Special Rapporteur's full report is expected in June [Getty]

Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur leading an independent inquiry into the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, has called the Saudi journalist's October killing a "brutal and premeditated killing" planned and perpetrated by Saudi officials in a report of early findings released on Thursday.

Callamard’s full report will be delivered in June.

The human rights investigator has accused the Saudi government of hampering independent investigations into Khashoggi's death, describing the time Saudi officials had allocated Turkish investigators access to the crime scene "woefully inadequate".

Callamard said that the Saudi journalist’s death was an "irreversible tragedy" and a grave violation of the the right to life. She accused Saudi officials of exploiting diplomatic immunity, saying it was not intended to "facilitate the commission of a crime and exonerate its authors of their criminal responsibility" and Saudi officials' response to the killing "immunity for impunity".

Callamard's report of early findings comes after a week-long visit to Turkey, during which the investigator's team met with officials including the Chief of Turkish Intelligence, the Chief Prosecutor of Istanbul and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The team was also given access to parts of the audio recording of Khashoggi's death and dismemberment obtained by the Turkish intelligence agency, but was unable to independently verify the material.

She thanked the Turkish government for their full cooperation with the UN investigation but noted that the team had been unable to meet with key investigators who have been working on the case in Turkey. Callamard called on the Turkish authorities to fulfil their promise to supply the UN with full access to forensic, scientific and police reports.

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Saudi Arabia had commissioned its own report into the killing compiled by private security firm Kroll. The report predictably denies Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's involvement in the killing, claiming that no WhatsApp messages between Saud al-Qahtani, an aide to the crown prince who allegedly oversaw the killing, and the crown prince mentioned Khashoggi on the day of the killing.

Callamard expressed "major concerns" over the fairness of Saudi proceedings which have sought the death penalty for five of 11 suspects indicted over the killing.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who wrote critically about the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October, likely at the orders of the young but powerful royal.

The CIA believe Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered an operation to kill Khashoggi and say his body was dismembered and removed to a location still publicly unknown.

His remains have not been found.