"Brutal and premeditated killing"- UN inquiry finds evidence of Saudi state officials involvement in planning death of Saudi journalist

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A United Nations independent inquiry into the death of Jamal Khashoggi has found evidence of the involvement of Saudi state officials in the planning of the killing of the Washington Post journalist.

The inquiry, led by Agnes Callamard, gathered and assessed the evidence on an initial visit to Turkey- the site of Mr. Khashoggi’s death- between January 28 and February 3. This included the purported audio recordings of the death of the journalist, though due to time constraints the inquiry was not able to authenticate the recordings.

“Mr. Khashoggi was the victim of a brutal and premeditated killing, planned and perpetrated by officials of the State of Saudi Arabia and others acting under the direction of these State agents” said Ms. Callamard in a statement released describing the early findings and impressions of the inquiry.

“The distress caused to Mr. Khashoggi’s loved ones and friends is beyond measure.”

The statement also mentions that the efforts of Turkey to carry out a “thorough, independent and impartial” investigation had “been seriously curtailed and undermined by Saudi Arabia”. This included not allowing access to the believed scene of the killing for 13 days after Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance.

It is believed Mr. Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018 by a team of Saudi operatives. 

Saudi officials report 11 people have been arrested over the killing of the journalist, with 5 sentenced to death. However, the UN statement expressed “major concerns” over the arrests due to “the lack of public information about the identity of those on trial, the transparency and fairness of the proceedings, and the potential application of the death penalty.”

Callamard will report her full findings to the UN Human Rights Council during the June 2019 session.

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