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Saudi Khashoggi murder investigation fails to address chain of command: U.N. expert

By Reuters | Jun 26th 2019 | 2 min read

A demonstrator holds a poster with a picture of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, Turkey October 25, 2018. [Reuters]

An official Saudi Arabian investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents has failed to examine who may have ordered the killing, a U.N. special rapporteur said on Wednesday.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a key adviser, and other senior officials should be investigated over the “premeditated” murder at its consulate in Istanbul given the evidence against them, said Agnes Callamard, U.N. investigator on extrajudicial executions who undertook her own inquiry.

Saudi officials have long denied suspicions in the CIA and some Western countries that the crown prince ordered the killing in October.

“The inquiry, which was a human rights inquiry, not a criminal investigation, has found credible evidence, warranting further investigation, of high-level Saudi officials’ individual liability, including that of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and his key adviser (Saud) Qahtani,” she told the U.N. Human Rights Council.

“The investigation carried out by the Saudi authorities has failed to address the chain of command,” Callamard said.

In her report, issued this month, she called for launching an international criminal investigation and urged states to widen sanctions to include the crown prince and his assets abroad, unless the man seen by many as the de facto Saudi ruler can prove no responsibility.

A Saudi minister last week rejected the report as having nothing new and containing “baseless allegations”.

Qahtani, seen as the right-hand man to Prince Mohammed, was removed as a royal court adviser and is the highest-profile figure implicated in the incident but is not among 11 on trial.

Abdulaziz Alwasil, Saudi ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, attended the session and was due to speak later in the debate.

Walter Stevens, European Union ambassador, said that those responsible must be held to account.

“We therefore call on Saudi Arabia to disclose all information available and to fully cooperate with all investigations into the killing,” he said.

Hatice Cengiz, a Turkish writer and Khashoggi’s fiancée, on Tuesday denounced what she called a “political murder” by Saudi agents.

“World public opinion must exert pressure and the U.N. must proceed with the next step which is mandatory,” Cengiz said at a panel event in Geneva.

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