Khashoggi Murder: UN Expert Blasts Saudi Prince Over Defence

Turkey Widens Khashoggi Search, Quizzes Consulate Staff
In this file photo taken on December 15, 2014, general manager of Alarab TV, Jamal Khashoggi, looks on during a press conference in the Bahraini capital Manama. MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH / AFPj

 

A UN rights expert on Monday criticised Saudi Arabia’s crown prince for trying to create “distance” between himself and journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s execution, even as he appeared to acknowledge the Saudi state was responsible.

Agnes Callamard, a United Nations special rapporteur who conducted an investigation into Khashoggi’s murder, was reacting to an interview broadcast by US media on Sunday with Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Speaking to CBS’s 60 Minutes, Prince Mohammed denied ordering or having advanced warning of Khashoggi’s killing on October 2 last year at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, but said he “took full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia”.

Callamard, whose independent probe found “credible evidence” linking the crown prince to the murder and attempted cover up, dismissed that defence as “problematic”.

“He is only taking corporate responsibility for the crime, which goes without saying,” Callamard told AFP, days ahead of the first anniversary since Khashoggi’s death.

She said the interview appeared to mark a concession by Prince Mohammed that “the killing of Mr. Khashoggi was a state killing,” and therefore a rejection of Riyadh’s previous explanation that responsibility for the brutal murder lay with rogue agents.

But Callamard condemned the prince, known by his initials MBS, for taking “no personal responsibility for the crime”.

“He is creating huge distance between himself and the crime,” by arguing that he cannot be liable for the conduct of all Saudi government employees.

Callamard told AFP that “for the last 12 months, the Saudi state, their various representatives and (MBS) included have been lying to the international community regarding the nature of the crime. So now we are supposed to take his word that, yes, he has a corporate responsibility but he has no personal responsibility?”

“Not good enough,” she said.

The CIA has also reportedly said the killing was likely ordered by Prince Mohammed.

But Saudi prosecutors have absolved the prince and said two dozen people implicated in the murder are in custody, with death penalties sought against five men.

 Justice not ‘easy’ 

Callamard has previously blamed UN “paralysis” for the failure to punish those who murdered Khashoggi — a US resident, Washington Post contributor and critic of the Saudi royal family.

She has called on Secretary General Antonio Guterres to independently launch a UN criminal probe.

The UN chief’s office has said that is impossible without a member state request.

“I have not argued that this will be easy for (Guterres) procedurally or politically to do. What I am arguing is that if he wanted, and if he received sufficient formal or informal backing, he could find the legal backing to move forward,” Callamard said.

AFP

War With Iran Would Gut World Economy, Says Saudi Prince

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince said in an interview aired on Sunday that war with Iran would devastate the global economy and he prefers a non-military solution to tensions with his regional rival.

“If the world does not take strong and firm action to deter Iran, we will see further escalations that will threaten world interests,” Prince Mohammed bin Salman told the CBS program “60 Minutes.”

“Oil supplies will be disrupted and oil prices will jump to unimaginably high numbers that we haven’t seen in our lifetimes,” the prince said.

The prince said a war between Saudi Arabia and Iran would be catastrophic for the world economy.

“The region represents about 30 percent of the world’s energy supplies, about 20 percent of global trade passages, about four percent of the world GDP. Imagine all of these three things stop,” he said.

“This means a total collapse of the global economy, and not just Saudi Arabia or the Middle East countries.”

He said a September 14 attack on Saudi oil facilities, which his country and the US blamed on Iran, had been senseless.

“There is no strategic goal. Only a fool would attack five percent of global supplies. The only strategic goal is to prove that they are stupid and that is what they did,” said the prince.

Prince Mohammed was asked point-blank if he ordered the killing and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October last year.

“Absolutely not. This was a heinous crime. But I take full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia, especially since it was committed by individuals working for the Saudi government,” he said.

“When a crime is committed against a Saudi citizen by officials, working for the Saudi government, as a leader I must take responsibility. This was a mistake.”

Body never found

Prince Mohammed, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, has come under huge international pressure after the US-based writer was killed and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Khashoggi’s body was never found.

The prince has said the killing was carried out without his knowledge.

Riyadh has repeatedly denied that Prince Mohammed was behind the murder of Khashoggi — a royal family insider turned critic and a US resident — who was killed in what Saudi authorities have described as a rogue operation.

A report by a UN human rights expert, who conducted an independent probe, said there was “credible evidence” linking the crown prince to the murder and an attempted cover up.

The CIA has also reportedly said the killing was likely ordered by Prince Mohammed.

But Saudi prosecutors have absolved the prince and said around two dozen people implicated in the murder are in custody, with death penalties sought against five men.

AFP