Two years on, Khashoggi homicide unresolved, physique nonetheless lacking | Saudi Arabia
The murderers of the Saudi journalist in the Istanbul consulate have yet to be brought to justice, says the UN reporter.
On Friday, two years have passed since the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul.
The 59-year-old Washington Post columnist was killed in the consulate on October 2, 2018 after entering the premises to obtain papers related to his proposed marriage. His body, which Turkish officials say was dismembered by Saudi officers, was never found.
The Saudi government labeled the attack a “rogue operation” after repeatedly denying any involvement in the incident for weeks.
Activists and human rights groups said the murder was deliberate and carried out on the orders of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the de facto ruler of the kingdom, which Riyadh denies.
The CIA concluded that the Crown Prince ordered the murder, an allegation that the Riyadh government denied.
Agnes Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, also found “credible evidence” in an investigative report published in June 2019 that MBS and other senior Saudi officials were responsible for the killing. She’s been following the case since the murder.
Callamard said it was clear from the start that it would be very difficult to do justice to Khashoggi as the Saudi judicial system is prone to political manipulation.
“I think we have to make sure that we are not taken hostage by the inadequacies of the Saudi judicial system,” she told Al Jazeera.
“It is up to other actors outside of Saudi Arabia to put pressure and do everything possible to ensure that responsibilities are met,” she added.
In September, the Saudi attorney general announced the final verdicts on eight defendants on trial in the Khashoggi case. Five of the accused were sentenced to 20 years, one to ten years, and the remaining two to seven years in prison each.
The Saudi authorities failed to reveal the identity of the accused or those who received what sentence, reinforcing claims that the trial was just a cover-up.
Turkey opens its own case
Meanwhile, Turkey opened its own trial in July against 20 Saudi nationals charged with killing the Saudi journalist.
Suspects in the trial include two former MBS executives.
According to the indictment, former Saudi Arabia deputy chief of intelligence, Ahmed al-Asiri, is accused of building a hit team and planning the murder of the journalist who wrote critical of the Saudi government.
Former royal court and media advisor Saud al-Qahtani is accused of instigating and directing the operation by giving orders to the hit team.
Other suspects are mainly the Saudi officers who allegedly participated in the assassination. Turkish prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for the suspects.
“We know it will be very difficult to bring those who ordered the crime to justice, especially when it comes to MBS as the CIA proposed over a year ago,” Callamard told Al Jazeera.
“That said, there are other ways to ensure that at least the truth is delivered, and at least Saudi Arabia is feeling the pressure politically and diplomatically,” she said, calling on the international community to act.