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'Sacrificial animal' : UN expert report details Khashoggi murder

  • Nina Larson

    Agence France-Presse

Geneva   /   Thu, June 20, 2019   /   09:10 pm
'Sacrificial animal' : UN expert report details Khashoggi murder In this file photo taken on December 15, 2014 , Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi attends a press conference in the Bahraini capital Manama. Saudi Arabia's attorney general sought the death penalty for five of 11 defendants charged with the murder of Khashoggi as their high-profile trial opened in Riyadh on January 3, 2019. (AFP/Mohammed Al-Shaikh )

A UN expert has published a bombshell report about the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying there is "credible evidence" linking the Saudi crown prince to the killing and cover-up.

Here are highlights from the 100-page inquiry published Wednesday by the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, about Khashoggi's murder in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

Riyadh responsible

The report concluded that the murder of Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, "constituted an extrajudicial killing for which the State of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is responsible."

She found Saudi Arabia had taken only "timid steps" towards addressing its responsibility through prosecution and reparations. The report also found that Saudi Arabia's closed-door trial of 11 unidentified suspects did not meet global standards and should be stopped.

Crown Prince implicated

The report found "credible evidence, warranting further investigation of high-level Saudi officials’ individual liability, including the Crown Prince's."

It stressed there was no conclusion made "as to guilt", but emphasized Prince Mohammed's liability demanded further scrutiny by "a proper authority." It also said evidence pointed to "the 15-person mission to execute Khashoggi requiring significant government coordination, resources and finances."

"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 Khashoggi, was being launched," it said.

Callamard highlighted evidence of the crime scene being "thoroughly, even forensically, cleaned", insisting the "destruction of evidence could not have taken place without the Crown Prince's awareness."

Recommendations

Because Khashoggi's killing was an international crime it should be investigated and tried internationally, the report said.

Callamard also urged UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to launch a probe that could build files on alleged perpetrators and identify options for justice, including a possible ad hoc tribunal. Guterres "should be able to establish an international follow-up criminal investigation without any trigger by a State," Callamard said.

The FBI in the United States, where Khashoggi was a resident, should also open an investigation, the report said. Callamard called for sanctions on Prince Mohammed's "personal assets abroad," until there is proof that "he carries no responsibilities for this execution".

Recordings of the killing

Callamard said her findings were based partially on recordings from inside the consulate before, during and after the killing. Khashoggi arrived at the consulate in Istanbul seeking documents for his upcoming wedding at 1:15 pm on Oct. 2, 2018.

Minutes before, a Saudi official identified as Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, can be heard asking whether it would "be possible to put the trunk in a bag?" A second official, Salah Mohammed Tubaigy, replied "No. Too heavy." Mutreb said it would "be easy. Joints will be separated... If we take plastic bags and cut it into pieces, it will be finished."

Later, Mutreb asked whether "the sacrificial animal" has arrived, according to the report.

Khashoggi was not mentioned by name in the recording.

Callamard said she could not establish the exact time of Khashoggi's death, but that Turkish intelligence assessed he may have died within 10 minutes of entering the consulate.

According to the recordings, a Saudi official told the journalist "we will have to take you back. There is an order from Interpol."

Khashoggi argued that there was no case against him and warned his driver and fiancee were waiting outside. Then a Saudi official can be heard telling him: "Let's make it short."

Callamard said the recordings then featured sounds of a struggle, during which officials can be heard saying "Did he sleep?", "He raises his head", "Keep pushing".

"Assessments of the recordings by intelligence officers in Turkey and other countries suggest that Khashoggi could have been injected with a sedative and then suffocated using a plastic bag," the report said.

Sounds of movement and "heavy panting", as well as the sound of plastic sheets could be heard later in the recording, the report said, adding that Turkish intelligence had concluded these came after Khashoggi's death "while the Saudi officials were dismembering his body". Turkish intelligence also identified the sound of a "saw", it said.