United Nations expert finds Saudi officials 'perpetrated' Khashoggi murder

United Nations expert finds Saudi officials 'perpetrated' Khashoggi murder

A United Nations-led inquiry into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi said on Thursday that evidence pointed to a brutal crime "planned and perpetrated" by Saudi officials.

The journalist had made a decision to leave his native Saudi Arabia for the U.S. in September 2017, but was lured to the embassy in Istanbul on in October 2018 to collect papers for his upcoming marriage.

"Woefully inadequate time and access was granted to Turkish investigators to conduct a professional and effective crime-scene examination and search required by global standards for investigation", she said.

Her team was given access to parts of the audio recording obtained by Turkey's intelligence agency, but said they were unable to do a "deep technical examination" of the material.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who wrote critically about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

The UN official's announcement comes a day after the Saudi government contested a key element of a Central Intelligence Agency assessment that concluded that Prince Salman likely ordered the murder.

USA intelligence agencies believe the crown prince ordered an operation to kill Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and one-time royal insider, whose body was dismembered.

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Saudi Arabia initially denied having anything to do with Khashoggi's death, but later suggested that he died during an accidental " fistfight" with officials inside the building.

His remains have not been found and it is feared his body could have been dissolved in acid after being cut into pieces by a Saudi hit squad.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia told a top aide in a conversation in 2017 that he would use "a bullet" on Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist killed in October, if Mr. Khashoggi did not return to the kingdom and end his criticism of the Saudi government, according to current and former American and foreign officials with direct knowledge of intelligence reports. "It is also raising a number of worldwide implications which demand the urgent attention of the global community including the United Nations", she said.

Callamard said her team were unable to perform a "thorough review" of this material and she did not have the chance to authenticate the recording independently.

After Mr. Khashoggi's first visit to the consulate on Sept 28, Saudi planning included "the travel of the three teams that carried out the operation; the presence of a lookalike of Mr. Khashoggi who was seen leaving the consulate; the presence of a forensic doctor; the escape of the teams' members and, of course, the disposal of Mr. Khashoggi's body".

In the report, Callamard will present a series of recommendations, which are not binding.

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