‘Credible evidence’ Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman liable for Jamal Khashoggi killing, UN says

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The report’s author called for an investigation into Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

An independent UN human rights expert investigating the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has recommended an investigation into the possible role of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, citing “credible evidence”. 

Key points:

  • Jamal Khashoggi was killed after entering the Saudi embassy in Istanbul on October 2
  • UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard says there is “credible evidence” high-level Saudi officials were involved
  • Ms Callamard called for sanctions against the Crown Prince

The 101-page report released by Agnes Callamard into the October killing of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul calls on UN bodies or secretary-general Antonio Guterres to “demand” a follow-up criminal investigation.

Ms Callamard noted the “extreme sensitivity” of considering the criminal responsibility of the Crown Prince, as well as Saud al-Qahtani, a senior adviser to the Saudi royal court who has not been charged.

“No conclusion is made as to guilt,” she wrote of the two men.

“The only conclusion made is that there is credible evidence meriting further investigation, by a proper authority, as to whether the threshold of criminal responsibility has been met.”

headshot of Jamal Khashoggi wearing a white head covering and glasses, mid-speech.

She wrote that there was “no reason why sanctions should not be applied against the Crown Prince and his personal assets” — noting that sanctions regimes have been put in place in the past even before guilt was determined.

Who is Mohammed bin Salman?

Who is Mohammed bin Salman?

Just a few years ago, Mohammed bin Salman was relatively unknown. Now, he’s one of Saudi Arabia’s most powerful men.

But she played down the focus on a single person, writing: “The search for justice and accountability is not singularly dependent on finding a ‘smoking gun’ or the person holding it”.

She wrote that her focus was mainly on identifying those who may have failed in or abused their positions of authority.

Eleven people are on trial in Saudi Arabia in largely secret proceedings, and five could face the death penalty.

Ms Callamard wrote that she obtained access to a recording of the killing on October 2. 

CCTV vision claims to show Jamal Khashoggi entering the Saudi consulate.

She said she had received information about a “financial package” offered to Khashoggi’s children, “but it is questionable whether such a package amounts to compensation under international human rights law.”

Ms Callamard noted limitations on her inquiry, which began in January. She received no response to her request to travel to Saudi Arabia. 

She wrote that she had received only a total of 45 minutes of tapes recorded within the consulate around the time of the killing, while Turkish intelligence had referenced some seven hours of recordings.

Suspect trained in Melbourne

Suspect trained in Melbourne

A doctor suspected of killing and dismembering a dissident Saudi journalist trained at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine in Melbourne after being sponsored by the Saudi Government, the ABC understands.

The report offers gruesome, nearly minute-by-minute accounting of the events surrounding the killing, and cites sounds of a buzzing saw that could have been used to dismember Khashoggi’s body.

She also identified by name 15 suspects in the case.

The US State Department has publicly designated 16 people for their roles in the killing of Khashoggi.

Many US politicians have criticised President Donald Trump for not condemning Saudi Arabia for the journalist’s killing.