Khashoggi killing: UN official awaits entry to Saudi consulate

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Agnes Callamard (R), UN special rapporteur on executions, stands behind of the barriers in front of of the Saudi Consulate as she tried to get inside but was not allowed in, in Istanbul, Turkey, Jan. 29, 2019. EPA-EFE/CEMAL YURTTAS

Istanbul : A UN human rights expert who is investigating the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi said on Tuesday that her team was waiting for permission to enter the kingdom’s consulate building in Istanbul.

Agnes Callamard, accompanied by British lawyer Helena Kennedy and forensic professor Duarte Nuno Vieira from the University of Coimbra, arrived in Ankara on Monday, where she met Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul.

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Speaking outside the Saudi consulate building, Callamard told reporters the UN team’s request to enter the consulate came late and Saudi authorities needed more time to process it, Efe news reported.

Callamard’s week-long visit came almost four months after Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and a supporter-turned-critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, where he had gone to pick up paperwork he needed for his marriage.

According to a UN statement released last week, Callamard was set to “assess the steps taken by governments to address and respond to the killing, and the nature and extent of states and individuals responsibilities for the killing”.

“The inquiry will also seek to identify ways by which states can strengthen fulfilment of their international commitments to protect the right to life, prevent violations and ensure accountability,” Callamard said, according to the UN statement.

Khashoggi’s killing sparked an outcry from the international community, drawing condemnation from organizations and world leaders.

The Turkish government had slammed the Saudi authorities for the slow pace of investigations and on several occasions called for an international probe into the case.

Last week, Cavusoglu said it was time to open a UN-led investigation, adding that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had ordered the relevant preparations.

The expert was expected to present the team’s findings at a session of the UN Human Rights Council in June.

Saudi officials initially denied Khashoggi’s death at the consulate but later acknowledged he had been killed when a fight broke out. The kingdom had said Khashoggi was killed in a “rogue operation” and put 11 defendants, all Saudi nationals, on trial earlier in the month.

Saudi prosecutors said they were seeking the death penalty for five of the suspects.

—IANS

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