The United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions has said she will travel to Turkey next week to head an “independent international inquiry” into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Khashoggi, who wrote for The Washington Post and was a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), was killed on October 2 shortly after he entered his country’s consulate in Istanbul.
He was dismembered inside the building in what Turkey called a “premeditated murder” orchestrated with orders from the highest levels of the Saudi government.
“I will be heading an independent international inquiry into the killing of Saudi journalist Mr. Jamal Khashoggi, commencing with a visit to Turkey from 28 January to 3 February 2019,” independent UN investigator Agnes Callamard told Reuters by email on Thursday.
Earlier on Thursday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said it was time for an international investigation and that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had ordered preparations to be made.
Callamard said that she would evaluate the circumstances of the crime, and “the nature and the extent of states’ and individuals’ responsibilities for the killing”.
“My findings and recommendations will be reported to the UN Human Rights Council at the June 2019 session,” she said.
The inquiry was being conducted at her request and three experts would accompany her, with forensic expertise amongst other skills, she said, declining to name them.
There was no immediate word on whether the team had sought access to Saudi Arabia.
Callamard, a French academic who is director of the Columbia Global Freedom of Expression initiative at Columbia University in New York, reports to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and has a global mandate to investigate executions.
Turkey also wants Saudi Arabia to extradite those accused of carrying out the murder to be tried in Turkish courts.
The Turkish authorities repeated the request after Riyadh announced early this month the start of the trial of 11 defendants, including five who the Saudi prosecution is seeking the death penalty for.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday his country was still gathering facts to uncover those involved in Khashoggi’s killing.
In a television interview with the US media group, Sinclair, he said the relationship with Saudi Arabia could be maintained and those responsible for Khashoggi’s killing should be held accountable.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday, Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said Riyadh will make sure justice will prevail in the Khashoggi trial in his country, adding that he was sad about what happened to the journalist.
Despite a joint investigation with Saudi officials looking at their consulate in Istanbul, the consul’s residence and several other locations, the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s remains are still unknown.