Credible proof linking MBS to Khashoggi killing: United Nations expert

Jamal Khashoggi

Jamal Khashoggi

GENEVA - Evidence suggests Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman and other senior Saudi officials are liable for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a United Nations rights investigator said on Wednesday.

"No. Too heavy", responded Salah al-Tubaigy, an Interior Ministry forensics doctor who would dismember and dispose of the body, according to the report. The two discussed which type of bag to place the body in - leather, they suggested - and referred to Khashoggi as a "sacrificial animal".

But the report, whose credibility has been called into question by one Saudi minister, has many more details worth highlighting.

Khashoggi's Turkish fiancée, who had been waiting outside the consulate, called on the United States to increase pressure. "So that by the time the Turkish investigators were able to enter the consulate they found basically close to very little", Callamard said.

Germany is "the only western government to suspend future arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the world's largest arms importer", the report said. But shortly afterward, the report says, there were "sounds of a struggle". The government later blamed rogue state agents for the killing.

"Evidence points to the 15-person mission to execute Mr. Khashoggi requiring significant government coordination, resources and finances", Callamard wrote according to The NYT. Khashoggi first visited the consulate about obtaining a marriage license for his upcoming nuptials with Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz on September 28, and officials told him he must return to the consulate on October 2.

A man tries to hold back the press as Saudi investigators arrive at the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. A team of Saudi agents arrived on October 1 and October 2 to await Khashoggi.

Saudi Arabia's deputy public prosecutor Shalaan Shalaan told reporters in November that the murder was ordered by the head of a "negotiations team" sent to Istanbul by the Saudi deputy intelligence chief to force Mr Khashoggi to return to the kingdom from his self-imposed exile.

In addition, "the Special Rapporteur found credible evidence pointing to the crime scenes having been thoroughly, even forensically, cleaned", the report says. The report went on to allege that "the Saudi investigation was not conducted in good faith, and that it may amount to obstructing justice".

The UN report concludes that the murder was deliberate and premeditated.

Callamard called for targeted sanctions on those believed responsible for Khashoggi's killing, which "ought also to include the crown prince and his personal assets overseas, until and unless evidence is provided and corroborated that he carries no responsibilities for this execution".

Callamard found "no evidence" that the Central Intelligence Agency knew about threats to Khashoggi's life before his death.

"No conclusion is made as to guilt", she wrote of the two officials.

Instead, a follow-up worldwide criminal probe should be launched, she said, urging U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to establish one. Calls for justice for Khashoggi were swift and worldwide, partly because the Saudi writer and news executive resided in the USA and contributed to The Washington Post.

She particularly zeros in on Guterres - without using his name. In her report, Callamard calls for the kingdom to suspend the trial, saying it doesn't meet worldwide standards.

Mutreb and 10 others are now on trial in closed hearings in Saudi Arabia for their role.

Eleven suspects in Khashoggi's killing are on trial in Saudi Arabia; five people face the death penalty.

"Turkey has not initiated proceedings yet and hopes for credible accountability are weak in a country with such a track record of imprisonment of journalists", she added.

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