The UN human rights investigator leading an international inquiry into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi said evidence showed he was a victim of “a brutal and premeditated killing, planned and perpetrated by officials of the state of Saudi Arabia.”
Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who wrote critically about the Saudi crown prince, was killed inside the Saudi Consulate General in İstanbul on Oct. 2. His remains have still not been found.
Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard on Thursday said her three-member team had access to part of the “chilling and gruesome audio material” of the murder obtained by Turkish intelligence agencies.
Saudi Arabia also “seriously undermined” Turkey’s efforts to investigate Khashoggi’s killing at its İstanbul consulate, said a UN statement.
“Woefully inadequate time and access was granted to Turkish investigators to conduct a professional and effective crime-scene examination and search required by international standards for investigation,” Callamard said.
Reporting on a week-long mission with her team of three experts to Turkey, Callamard also said she requested access to Saudi Arabia.
She expressed “major concerns” about the fairness of proceedings for 11 people facing trial in the kingdom over Khashoggi’s murder.
Saudi Arabia has indicted 11 people in the killing and is seeking the death penalty for five of them.
Callamard plans to present a final report to the UN Human Rights Council in June.
The CIA reportedly made an assessment in which it has “high confidence” that concludes Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered the assassination.
After making numerous contradictory statements about Khashoggi’s fate, Riyadh said he had been killed and his body dismembered when negotiations to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.
Turkey has previously said it was working with other countries on the Khashoggi investigation and has accused Saudi Arabia of not fully cooperating to uncover the journalist’s killing.
Saudi Arabia has come under heavy international pressure over the Khashoggi killing, including from the United States, its closest ally, whose Senate passed a resolution in which it said it “believes Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.”