Saudi dismisses UN report on Khashoggi killing as ‘unfounded’

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A Saudi minister has slammed as “unfounded” a report by a United Nations expert who called for those involved in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi to be held accountable.

“It is not new. The [UN] report reiterates what has already been published and circulated in the media,” Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs, said on Twitter on Wednesday.

“The report of the rapporteur in the human rights council contains clear contradictions and baseless allegations which challenge its credibility.”

The report by Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur for extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions, said there was “credible evidence” linking Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to Khashoggi’s killing in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.

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She said it was clear the “execution of Mr Khashoggi was the responsibility of the state of Saudi Arabia,” and called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to launch a formal international criminal probe into the case.

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly denied the involvement of the crown prince.

Saudi officials initially denied Khashoggi’s killing at the consulate, saying he had left the premises. The kingdom changed its narrative several times before later acknowledging he was killed, blaming “rogue” security agents.

The Saudi public prosecutor indicted 11 unnamed suspects in November, including five who could face the death penalty on charges of ordering and committing the crime.

But Callamard called for the trial to be suspended, citing concerns over secret hearings and a potential miscarriage of justice.

In a series of tweets, al-Jubeir said that judicial authorities in Saudi were the only ones “competent to deal with this case and exercise their powers in complete independence”.

“We vehemently reject any attempt to undermine the leadership of the kingdom, or derail the case from the course of justice or influence it in any way,” he added.

‘Premeditated killing’

Khashoggi, a critic of MBS’s policies, entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to pick up documents required for his second marriage.

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His fiancee, Turkish national Hatice Cengiz, was waiting outside the consulate but the journalist never emerged from the building.

“There is little doubt in my mind that the killing was premeditated,” Callamard told Al Jazeera on Wednesday. “It was planned.”

The UN investigator also said there was “credible evidence, warranting further investigation of high-level Saudi officials’ individual liability, including the crown prince’s.”

It has been widely reported that the CIA concluded that MBS ordered the killing.

The US Senate has also adopted a resolution naming MBS as “responsible” for the murder.

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/06/saudi-arabia-slams-report-khashoggi-killing-unfounded-190619152117246.html

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