‘Int’l probe into Khashoggi murder needs UN backing’


The current state of an international investigation into the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last year is far from satisfactory, according to a prominent, award-winning British journalist.

Jonathan Rugman, a foreign affairs correspondent of Channel 4 News and a BAFTA Award-winning journalist with years of experience in both Washington and Istanbul, thinks that a recent call for such an investigation still needs the backing of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency at the London headquarters of the Amnesty International during the launch of his book The Killing in the Consulate: Investigating the Life and Death of Jamal Khashoggi, Rugman described the “shocking” killing as a “state-sanctioned murder.”

Summarizing his book, Rugman said it tells the story of a “shocking murder of a journalist in Istanbul … by the employees of the Saudi government.”

“The world’s response to it and the fact of its happening at all needed to be examined and written about, investigated from all sorts of views, and not least because the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia [Mohammed bin Salman] claims that he bears full responsibility for what happened [but] has not taken any culpability, any blame at all.”

The author underlined that this “extraordinary example of a most heinous crime committed against a journalist and how the world reacted to it” tells us about who we are.

“What balance do we strike between human rights and commercial and strategic advantage?” he asked.

“This story crystalizes one of the main concerns of our time, which is what happened what we call the rule-based order breaks down and innocent people are killed by their own government,” he added.

International investigation

Rugman said he doesn’t think “any journalist is happy with the state of the investigation” at the moment.

He said: “The UN rapporteur for extrajudicial executions Agnes Callamard has called for an international inquiry. That inquiry is not taking place.

“It doesn’t have the backing of her own boss, the UN secretary-general [Guterres].

“You have a trial that is taking place in [the Saudi capital] Riyadh of 11 men, none of whom have been named.”

Rugman said the diplomats who are allowed to watch the trial have sworn secrecy, and the crown prince’s former media adviser Saud Al-Qahtani is still free.

“He is not on trial even though the Saudi prosecutor indicated he was one of those involved in the crime,” he said.

“I don’t think there will be an international inquiry and I don’t think, even if it takes place, the Saudis would either hand over suspects for any trial or indeed cooperate with the investigation at all. After all, they tried to destroy the evidence in Istanbul.”

Rugman’s book, launched on the first anniversary of Khashoggi’s murder, gives a detailed background of the “heinous” crime and looks at the U.S. administrations’ connections with the Saudi kingdom.

Khashoggi, a Saudi national and columnist for The Washington Post, was killed and dismembered by a group of Saudi operatives in October 2018 shortly after he entered the consulate in Istanbul to get a marriage certificate.

After weeks of denying involvement, Saudi Arabia admitted that Khashoggi had been killed at the consulate but claimed that the royal family had no prior knowledge of a plot to murder him.

According to reports by the United Nations and other independent organizations, he was murdered and dismembered. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accepted responsibility for the killing but denied ordering it.
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