GENEVA - A U.N. investigator is calling on governments to prosecute and bring to justice Saudi officials responsible for what she says was the premeditated execution of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in October. The investigator presented findings of her six-month probe into Khashoggi's murder to the U.N. Human Rights Council Wednesday in Geneva.
Special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard said evidence she has gathered in the course of her inquiry suggests the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is responsible for the extrajudicial killing of Khashoggi.
She said his killing was carefully planned and premeditated.
"The inquiry was a human rights inquiry, not a criminal investigation. It has nevertheless found credible evidence warranting further investigation, of high-level Saudi officials' individual liability, including that of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia [Mohammed bin-Salman] and of his key adviser, Saud al-Qahtani," she said.
Callamard said Khashoggi's killing was not just a domestic matter. She said his murder constitutes an international crime because it was carried out at the Saudi consulate in Turkey, motivated by a desire to silence a journalist in self-imposed exile in the United States.
She called on countries to exercise their right of universal jurisdiction under international law to prosecute suspects on their territory. She said the establishment of a U.N. criminal investigation also is essential to answer the many outstanding questions that remain to be resolved.
She said those responsible for the targeted killing of Khashoggi must be held accountable.
"There are clear signs of increasingly aggressive tactics by state and non-state actors to permanently silence those who criticize them. The international community must take stock of this hostile environment. It must take stock of the findings of my investigation into the killing of Mr. Khashoggi," Callamard said.
Saudi Arabian officials dismiss Callamard's report as being full of lies, unfounded allegations and lacking credibility.
In a statement issued after the release of the report last week, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir called Khashoggi's death a deplorable and grievous crime, which could not be condoned. He said the kingdom was taking the requisite steps to bring the perpetrators of that crime to justice.