'Credible Evidence': U.N. Points to Saudi Prince Role in Khashoggi Murder

Friday, 21 Jun, 2019

The Columbia University professor's report provides details of Mr. Khashoggi's gruesome death in a Saudi consulate in Istanbul, points the finger at the Saudi government for premeditated murder, and provides scathing recommendations to hold the people accountable for Mr. Khashoggi's killing.

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.

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

Meanwhile, one of the potential masterminds behind the killing, and special adviser to Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (also known by the nickname MBS), Saud al-Qahtani was most recently seen touring in nearby Abu Dhabi and is not under arrest in the Kingdom.

The recordings and other evidence collected during a six-month investigation showed Khashoggi's death on October 2 previous year was "planned" and "premeditated", said Agnes Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur for extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions.

The report detailed at length the power structure in the kingdom, which in nearly all cases emanates downward from the office of the crown prince.

"At 13:02, inside the Consulate, Mr. Mutreb and Dr. Tubaigy had a conversation just minutes before Mr. Khashoggi entered".

Ankara has for long not accepted Riyadh's claim that the murder was a domestic affair, and al-Burai argued it would use Callamard's branding of the killing as an worldwide crime to mobilise the global community to demand accountability, as well as press Saudi Arabia to reveal where Khashoggi's body was.

Mutreb described Khashoggi as a "sacrificial animal", according to audio obtained by Callamard.

In Istanbul, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the report had determined Saudi Arabia's responsibility over the killing, adding that the kingdom would have to account for the killing.

Indeed, this human rights inquiry has shown that there is sufficient credible evidence regarding the responsibility of the Crown Prince demanding further investigation. The report concluded that any campaign against dissidents and political opponents would not be possible without the crown prince's "agreement of acquiescence".

The report also calls on the USA government to launch an "FBI investigation into the execution of Mr. Khashoggi... and pursue criminal prosecutions within the United States, as appropriate".

This was disputed by Turkish officials, who said they had an audio recording of his killing inside the consulate on October 13.

The report, which calls for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other senior Saudi officials to be investigated over their liability, relies on recordings and forensic work conducted by Turkish investigators and information from the trials in Saudi Arabia. "Hurry up. Help us so that we can help you because at the end we will take you back to Saudi Arabia and if you don't help us you know what will happen at the end; let this issue find a good end".

The new report said there was evidence of the crime scene being "thoroughly, even forensically, cleaned" by the Saudis, in what "may amount to obstructing justice". He's told to send a text message to his fiancee, who was waiting outside.

Callamard said an investigation should look into how much the crown prince knew, whether he had a direct or indirect role, and whether he could have stopped the killing.

Callamard said that states should invoke universal jurisdiction in the case.

The report also identified by name 15 suspects, of which 11 are on trial in Saudi Arabia. USA officials say that, in an intercepted phone call, a member of the assassination team told one of the prince's aides to "tell your boss" that the mission had been accomplished.