Khashoggi verdict ‘anything but justice’ rules UN special rapporteur

31st Jan 2020
Khashoggi verdict ‘anything but justice’ rules UN special rapporteur

UN special rapporteur, Agnès Callamard and Jamal Khashoggi (Credit WikiCommons)

Harun Nasrullah

A United Nations special rapporteur condemned the Saudi verdict on the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi as “anything but justice.” Agnès Callamard, a UN special rapporteur who authored an inquiry into Khashoggi’s death said the verdict absolves Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s inner circle of involvement in the horrific murder in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.

Five of the 11 officially unidentified men on trial were sentenced to death on December 23 and three more were handed a combined 24 years in prison.
The investigation also concluded that Saud al-Qahtani, one of the Crown Prince’s most trusted advisers, was investigated and found to have no proven involvement in Khashoggi’s death.

The findings contradict the conclusion of the CIA and other western intelligence agencies that Prince Mohammed directly ordered Khashoggi’s assassination, an allegation the Kingdom has strenuously denied. Qahtani, along with 16 other Saudis, was sanctioned by the US last year for his alleged role in the killing.

Saudi Deputy Public Prosecutor, Shalaan bin Rajih Shalaan, said: “There was no premeditation to kill at the beginning of the mission” – a finding at odds with extensive evidence showing that a 15-man hit squad had arrived in Istanbul to kill.

Callamard, who was barred from access to the secretive trial, said the ruling that the murder was a spontaneous rather than premeditated crime was “anything but justice.”

“Under international human rights law, the killing of Khashoggi was an extrajudicial execution for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible,” said Callamard. “Bottom line: the hitmen are guilty, sentenced to death. The masterminds not only walk free. They have barely been touched by the investigation and the trial. That is the antithesis of justice. It is a mockery,” said Callamard.

Several rights groups have repeatedly called for an independent international investigation into the journalist’s death. In a statement, Amnesty International called the outcome a “whitewash which brings neither justice nor truth.”

Turkey’s foreign ministry also said the judgment was “far from meeting …expectations” on delivering justice. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s top press aide, Fahrettin Altun, tweeted: “To claim that a handful of intelligence operatives committed this murder is to mock the world’s intelligence.”

Ankara used the killing to exert pressure on its Saudi regional rivals, drip-feeding lurid details to the media and sharing damning audio recordings of the murder with other governments.
The CIA, along with several western governments, eventually concluded that the Crown Prince himself ordered Khashoggi’s assassination. The Kingdom instead blamed rogue agents.

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