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UN rights chief urges intl. experts to help murdered Saudi journalist’s investigation

This file photo shows United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, speaking at UN Headquarters in New York, the United States. (Photo by the UN News Center)

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has called for international experts to be involved in an independent investigation into the murder of prominent Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who went missing after visiting the kingdom’s consulate in Turkey’s largest city of Istanbul earlier this month.

“For an investigation to be carried out free of any appearance of political considerations, the involvement of international experts, with full access to evidence and witnesses, would be highly desirable,” Bachelet said on Tuesday.

She further noted that it is important to determine whether serious human rights violations – such as torture, summary execution or enforced disappearance – were committed and to identify those implicated, “irrespective of their official capacity.”

The senior UN official also welcomed the steps taken by Turkish and Saudi authorities to investigate and prosecute the alleged perpetrators.

“Given the information that high-level officials in Saudi Arabia were apparently involved, and it took place in the Consulate of Saudi Arabia, the bar must be set very high to ensure meaningful accountability and justice for such a shockingly brazen crime against a journalist and government critic,” Bachelet pointed out.

She stressed that an autopsy on the victim’s body is crucial in any murder investigation, asking Saudi authorities to reveal the whereabouts of Khasoggi’s body “without further delay or prevarication.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey, on October 30, 2018. (Photo by Reuters)

On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on Saudi Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb to investigate who ordered the hit on the journalist.  

Erdogan maintains that a 15-strong team traveled from Riyadh to kill Khashoggi, who had been a vocal critic of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and de facto ruler Mohammad bin Salman, at the Saudi diplomatic compound in Istanbul.

“Who sent these 15 people? As Saudi public prosecutor, you have to ask that question, so you can reveal it,” the Turkish president  told reporters in Ankara.

He added, “Now we have to solve this case. No need to prevaricate, it makes no sense to try to save certain people. There is no sense to try to protect the culprits.”

“Either the Saudi foreign minister or the 18 suspects must explain who the local co-conspirators are.

“Let’s know who this co-conspirator is, we can shed further light,” Erdogan said. 

The Turkish president underscored that the Ankara government would not turn a blind eye to the Khashoggi case.

“If we turn a blind eye to the issue, we will have a joint debt against humanity, we have a conscientious debt,” he said.

Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz says he entered the consulate at around 1 p.m. local time (1000 GMT) on October 2, as she accompanied him but waited outside. 

The woman, who is a Turkish citizen, called police when Khashoggi did not emerge at 5 p.m., after the consulate had officially closed.

The Arab21 news website reported that the 59-year-old author paid a visit to the mission late last month, but was told by officials at the time to return at a later date to complete an application related to a family matter and obtain paperwork ahead of his upcoming wedding.

Khashoggi, a prominent commentator on Saudi affairs who wrote for The Washington Post’s Global Opinions section, had lived in self-imposed exile in the US since September 2017, when he left Saudi Arabia over fears of the Riyadh regime’s crackdown on critical voices.

His death has subjected the Riyadh regime and Mohammed bin Salman to strict scrutiny. The journalist's fiancée has accused Saudi officials of a massive cover-up.

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