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UN believes MbS prime suspect in Khashoggi murder: Turkish official

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Yasin Aktay (C), an adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, meets with Agnes Callamard (3rd-R), the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, in Ankara, Turkey, on February 1, 2019. (Photo by Anadolu Agency)

An investigative team led by the United Nations (UN) believes Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is the prime suspect in the state-sponsored assassination of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, an adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says.

Yasin Aktay made the remark on Friday following a meeting with the UN investigative team that is probing the brutal murder of Khashoggi inside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul last October.

The team, led by Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, arrived in Turkey on Monday to probe Khashoggi’s killing.

She held talks with Turkish foreign and justice ministers and the prosecutor in the case.

“The UN team considers the crown prince of Saudi Arabia the main person responsible for the killing of Khashoggi. The team held a number of meetings in Turkey, including with Khashoggi’s fiancé, and she (Callamard) also intends to listen to the audio recordings related to the crime,” Aktay, the Turkish presidential adviser, told the Turkish NTV broadcaster.

Callamard has been barred from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where she had requested access to as part of the investigation.

Omer Celik, a spokesman for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, has denounced the Saudi move to prevent the UN team’s entry into the consulate as “a scandal.”

Khashoggi — a late but vocal critic of Crown Prince Mohammed — was killed and his body was dismembered by a Saudi hit squad after being lured into the consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.

Turkey, which said it was in possession of audio evidence of Khashoggi’s murder soon after he failed to exit the consulate, has indirectly suggested that Mohammed ordered his killing. The Washington Post, for which Khashoggi was a columnist, reported in November last year that the CIA had also concluded that Mohammed ordered his killing.

After weeks of outright denial, the Riyadh regime eventually acknowledged the murder but has attempted to shift the blame to Mohammed’s underlings and away from the prince himself.

International suspicion, however, remains largely directed at Mohammed.

Ankara has demanded that Riyadh extradite the suspects in the case to stand trial in Turkey. Saudi Arabia has refused to do so.

Riyadh has not yet produced Khashoggi’s body, either.

Callamard’s findings and recommendations are expected to be reported to the UN Human Rights Council at a June 2019 session.

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