Khashoggi’s killing: UN official in Turkey for international inquiry

ANKARA: A team of UN experts arrived here on Monday to begin an investigation into the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside his country’s consulate in Istanbul, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.

UN human rights expert Agnès Callamard, accompanied by British lawyer Helena Kennedy and forensic professor Duarte Nuno Vieira from the University of Coimbra, was received by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Efe news reported.

“Met Agnès Callamard, UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions, who is in Turkey to investigate the murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” Cavusoglu said in a post to Twitter.

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

The UN expert was scheduled to visit Istanbul as part of an inquiry into the circumstances of Khashoggi’s death.

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 as well as the nature and extent of states’ and individuals responsibilities for the killing”.

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“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.