Saudi state committed 'extrajudicial execution' of journalist Khashoggi, says UN expert

Saudi state committed 'extrajudicial execution' of journalist Khashoggi, says UN expert
The UN also called for an international investigation into the murder of insider-turned-critic Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.
3 min read
26 October, 2018
Khashoggi was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul [Getty]

A UN expert said on Thursday said the Saudi state committed an "extrajudicial execution" of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and called for an international investigation. 

"Even Saudi Arabia itself has admitted that the crime was premeditated and involved state officials," said Agnes Callamard, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions.

"Whether or not they acted in the name of the state, that remains to be discussed and investigated," she said. 

But Callamard added that "the people involved, the people who commanded it, who orchestrated it are high enough to represent the (Saudi) state".

There has been no information, she said, that the killers "acted in a completely rogue fashion".

Last week US President Donald Trump said "rogue killers" could be to blame, while Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir also blamed a "rogue operation," before the kingdom on Thursday cited information from Turkey in saying the killing appeared to have been premeditated.

"We believe that an international investigation must follow" because of the "nature of the crime, of the victim, of the people involved, the location of the alleged killing," Callamard said. 

"Because we are talking about a crime against a journalist, that violence against journalists has been highlighted as a key priority for the UN and for a number of state members".

According to Callamard, with Turkish and Saudi Arabian cooperation, such an international investigation could be presided over by the UN Security Council, the General Assembly, the UN security-general or the Council on Human Rights based in Geneva. 

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who had criticised policies of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had been self-exiled in the US for about a year.

He was killed on 2 October in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, but his body has not been found.

Turkish media sources have long maintained that a team of 15 Saudi agents were sent to Istanbul and tortured Khashoggi, cut his fingers off and decapitated him with a bone saw brought from Saudi Arabia for that purpose. 

After more than two weeks of vehemently denying Khashoggi was dead and insisting Khashoggi left the consulate unharmed, the Saudi government on Saturday said he was killed in a "fist fight" inside the building and that the murder was not state-sanctioned.

In his first public comments on the case, Prince Mohammed, the kingdom's de factor ruler, this week denounced the "repulsive" murder for which 18 Saudis including a senior intelligence officer have been detained.

Trump, in his most recent comments, called it "one of the worst in the history of cover-ups".

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